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Warning on enhanced service delays in bills

GPs are demanding a Government investigation into how contracts to provide practice computer systems were awarded through the National Programme for IT.

GPs in London have written to health minister John Hutton calling for an inquiry into the 'probity, equity and transparency' of the tendering and contract process.

They made the move because GPs will be restricted to a choice of just two systems in future and forced to stop using popular software such as EMIS or Torex.

In London, the service provider Capital Care Alliance chose software company IDX as its preferred provider, even though its Care Cast system has still not been developed.

The NPfIT held an open tender before offering multi-million pound contracts to local service providers, but no such process was carried out by those providers to decide which computer system GPs will be asked to use.

Dr Robert Hughes, chair of the London GP forum, said GPs were angry at the lack

of information about the

decision.

He said: 'We have asked NPfIT and other bodies involved and everyone seems to be passing the buck. That is why we have written to the minister so he can sort it out.'

Dr Kambiz Boomla, a GP in east London and executive member of the forum, added: 'It doesn't seem fair, there is not a level playing field.'

A senior source at one systems provider which was overlooked said it was 'unusual' for such a decision to be made without a tendering process.

An NPfIT spokesman said local service providers submitted their choice of practice software as part of their formal tender to win a contract with the national programme.

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