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GPs under more pressure to change their IT systems

NHS managers are continuing to put GPs under pressure to change their computer system so it complies with the Department of Health's national programme for IT.

The move comes despite recent guidance from the GPC, RCGP and the national programme which states GPs do not have to switch system as long as their supplier is committed to complying with the new NHS Care Records Service – which almost all suppliers are.

The guidance was released after GPs complained they were being stripped of the right to choose their system by the national IT programme.

Leading GP systems supplier Emis had also threatened to withdraw from links with the £6 billion IT programme, sparking fears its systems would not be compliant.

Dr Ken Menon, a GP in Ongar, Essex, said Epping Forest PCT told local GPs that Accenture, the local service provider, would only work with Torex systems. Most GPs in the region use Emis.

'We were told we need to consider moving to Torex,' Dr Menon said.

'The impression I got is it was more than just a preference. Nothing was said about whether we could stay with our current system or what the alternatives were. That's not choice.'

A spokeswoman for Epping Forest PCT said it would not pressure practices to adopt a common system without involving GPs.

But she revealed the level of confusion by adding that Emis 'was not one of the systems

offered as part of the [national] programme'.

Several EMIS systems are accredited as compliant with the care records initiative.

A GP in north Bradford, who asked to remain anonymous, said GPs in his area were told by officials from their strategic health authority, PCT and Accenture that if they refused to move to Torex they would have to pay more to make their EMIS systems compatible.

The GP said: 'They spelled out there was a choice but if you want it you have to pay for compatibility. I imagine that would cost thousands.'

GPC negotiator Dr Laurence Buckman said: 'Local service providers don't appear to be following what those in charge of IT are saying.'

By Ian Cameron

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