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NHS IT firms 'scaring' GPs into switching computer systems

GPs are growing increasingly concerned their choice of practice computer systems will be removed as a result of the Government's national programme for NHS IT.

GPC members claim the companies chosen to carry out the £6 billion project are already putting pressure on primary care organisations to force GPs to switch to a system of their choice.

GPC negotiator Dr Laurence Buckman said he had

evidence that the companies, known as local service pro-viders, had attempted to restrict GPs' choice in 'several areas'.

He said: 'Local service pro-viders must not force people to change systems.

'We cannot be clearer about that in the contract documents but we have significant documentary evidence it is happening. All they are doing is scaring people and destabilising the NHS.'

Dr Buckman urged GPs 'not to be intimidated' by the service providers. 'They must not be threatened or cajoled to moving systems.'

West Midlands Regional LMC chair Dr Grant Ingrams said he had heard of pressure on GPs in the London, Southern and North West and West Midlands regions.

Dr Gillian Braunold, dep-uty chair of the joint GPC/ RCGP IT committee, said GPs in Harlow, Essex, would be seeking assurances at a meeting this week.

A spokesman for the National Programme for IT denied service providers were pressing to restrict GPs' choice or force them to change system. 'Service providers are contracted to offer practices a choice of IT system,' he said.

'They have no intention of asking a practice to move to an inferior system nor from a system which is to be GMS – and care record – compliant.'

But Dr Manpreet Pujara, chair of the EMIS users' group and a GP in Rochester, Kent, said he had received reports from GPs using all types of software that choice was

under threat. 'It is not just EMIS,' he said.

By Ian Cameron

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