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IT deal hits further delays

A deal to ensure GPs have a free choice over which clinical software they use is set for a further delay of up to nine months.

The GP Systems of Choice deal, first promised by the Government 18 months ago, is to be put out to tender through the Official Journal of the European Union by Connecting for Health.

With an advert still to be placed, GP IT experts said it would be well into next year before funding for GPs to continue using systems such as EMIS, InPractice Systems and iSoft was secured.

The delay means practices will continue to face pressure from PCTs to switch to the new, centrally funded systems, such as SystmOne, offered by local service providers to Connecting for Health.

Ewan Davies, chair of the British Computer Society's

Primary Health Care Specialist Group, said progress on the choice deal had already been 'glacial'. He said: 'I would have expected this to have been dealt with after the ministerial announcement 18 months ago.'

Connecting for Health refused to say why it had only now realised it must tender through OJEU, or whose decision it was, or when the OJEU advert would be placed.

Professor Mike Pringle, joint national GP clinical lead for Connecting for Health, said the move was 'a necessary evil – it will make life simpler for all'.

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