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Patient-centred consultations of little benefit, says GP study

Practices could lose quality points and patient care could suffer if they are forced to change computer systems by the National Programme for IT, the EMIS National Users Group has warned.

Dr Manpreet Pujara, chair of the EMIS National Users Group, issued a rallying call to delegates at its 11th annual conference for GPs to insist that existing IT systems still remained an option.

He accused the National Programme for IT of railroading practices into changing to a single system rather than maintaining choice.

Forced transfer could see data lost or corrupted and result in practices losing quality points, while the cost of adapting working practices could cost the equivalent of a whole-time equivalent GP.

Dr Pujara, a GP in Rochest-er, Kent, said GPs must write, fax or visit their MP, and contact LMCs and PCTs to register concerns over failure to honour new contract pledges on choice.

'I would like to think we can write to every single MP,' he said. 'I urge you to invest 20 minutes writing a letter. If you do nothing then it is too late but there is time and we can save general practice.

'It really is a case of "your country needs you", as there's no doubt a change of system will affect patient care. Be vocal about your concerns.'

EMIS deputy managing director Sean Riddell told the 650 delegates the national programme was originally to have offered a catalogue of systems but now would offer only a 'monolithic' vision of the future of GP computing.

He said practices would suffer as a result of the loss of innovation and competition. 'We don't believe you can create centrally by top-down specification. When the Government produces cars you get the

Trabant. You need the market.'

The programme insisted GPs would be offered a choice of 'at least two' systems but had not specified them.

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