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MPs criticise GP data extraction rollout

MPs have criticised the rollout of the GP data extraction service, which supports payments to practices, saying it has ‘failed to deliver’.

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said that the Department of Health should decide on whether the General Practice Extraction Service (GPES) should be ’improved or replaced’ by June this year.

GPES was due to be operational by 2010 but only began functioning in 2014. It currently only provides data to two organisations – NHS England and the Health and Social Care Information Centre – although it was planned to support eight.

In its report into the rollout, published today, the PAC said that the DH had ‘admitted’ GPES was was ’only delivering about half of what was specified and paid for’ and that the fixed-price contract used was ‘inappropriate’.

The report said: ’The DH failed to ensure that an effective governance structure was in place for the project and that basic lessons from past government IT failures were learned. Very common mistakes from past projects were repeated, such as failing to adopt the right contracting approach, failing to ensure continuity of key staff on the project, and failing to undertake proper testing before accepting the system.

’GPES started some five years later than planned; it is over-budget; and it still does not provide the full service required. Atos, supplier for a key part of the system, may have met the letter of its contractual obligations but took advantage of a weak client by taking the client’s money while knowing full well that the whole system had not been properly tested.’

The PAC report follows a previous review by the National Audit Office last summer which found the system that had been delivered was ‘fundamentally flawed’ and unlikely to have a long-term future.

A spokesperson for supplier Atos said: ’On the part of the system we built, we collaborated fully. Where issues were found, we fixed them quickly at our own cost.’