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GPC in talks over 'urgent' additional funds for practice IT systems

CCGs must not be forced to use their ‘already stretched’ budgets to manage the provision of GP practice IT from April 2013, the GPC has urged.

The NHS Commissioning Board said in June that expenditure on core GP IT will be included in the £12.6bn primary care commissioning budget devolved to CCGs, but the GPC is pressing the board to provide additional funding to CCGs.

The responsibility for handling the contractual provision of GP IT systems currently rests with PCTs, and will ultimately sit with the NHS Commissioning Board in the new system.

But GPC negotiators said the decision to include GP IT in the existing budget arrangements for CCGs was a mistake, and that the £25 per head management allowance would not be enough to cover it.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, GPC lead negotiator on IT, said it was vital that ‘increased resources’ were made available to ensure GPs had access to the full range of support to run their practices.

He said: ‘At a relatively late stage we were advised that this contractual element of IT provision to GP practices would be delegated by the commissioning board to CCGs.

‘Unfortunately we have not been advised of the increased resources that would need to be made available to CCGs. The current management budget of £25 per head does not include this because it wasn’t part of the original responsibilities for CCGs.’

He added: ‘As a priority we are seeking to ensure that the full cost of GP IT is devolved to CCGs so that they can actually ensure that practices receive continued support as well as hardware and all other current provisions for GP IT.’

‘This is crucial because the daily experience of patients and the provision of services by GPs themselves depends upon functioning IT systems. There is an urgency for this to be implemented.’

Dr Nagpaul said GPC was ‘in dialogue’ with the NHS Commissioning Board over the issue, as it was crucial for CCGs not to have to ‘subsidise IT from their already stretched budget’.

He added that the NHS Commissioning Board expected most CCGs to outsource the handling to new Commissioning Support Units, but warned: ‘Whilst this may be a practical initial step, CCGs clearly need to have autonomy over how they discharge this delegated responsibility.’

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