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Health minister John Hutton has told MPs that GPs' existing computer systems will be replaced by software being created under the National Programme for IT ­ whether practices want it or not.

Mr Hutton said the two 'core systems' ­ Lorenzo and Carecast ­ being written by local service providers would 'ultimately replace existing clinical systems'.

His comments come despite earlier reassurances by the Government that GPs will retain choice over their practice IT systems.

GPs said the statement showed they would only have a choice in the short-term.

Dr John Williams, a member of the GPC/RCGP joint IT committee, said: 'In the medium-term I think we'll get choice. But as to whether we have it in the long-term I'm not clear. That's the implication of what he's saying.'

Dr Manpreet Pujara, chair of the EMIS national users group and a GP in Rochester, Kent, said GPs believed the programme's strategy was to 'rip and replace' existing clinical software.

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