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Nearly 600 GP practices must seek new IT supplier

Hundreds of GP practices across the UK must search for a new IT supplier after CSC confirmed it is dropping its iSoft products Synergy, Premiere and Gannymede from the UK primary care market.

CSC said it would support GP practices in England and Northern Ireland until the end of October next year and until March 2014 for practices in Wales.

An estimated 582 GP practices in the UK use the software: 467 in England and 115 in Northern Ireland and Wales.

GP leaders described the announcement as ‘a disaster’ and urged GPs to try and sign off their QOF before switching over.

A company statement said: ‘CSC remains fully committed to the primary care marketplace.

‘Following an in-depth review of our strategy for this area of our healthcare business we have concluded that we will not support a small number of former iSOFT products we provide, we believe this decision is in the best long term interests of our customers.

‘We will of course be continuing to support these GP practices through the transition for at least another 12 months.’

Dr Paul Cundy, chair of the GPC´s IT subcommittee and a GP in Wimbledon said: ‘I’m a Synergy user and it’s a disaster because I’d be surprised if any other system can match the functionality. It’s the most complex of the clinical systems and when we looked at changing four years ago what thought it was the best.

‘Because of QOF practices should consider migrating either before December or after April next year, remembering that it takes 18 months to fully bed into a new system - assuming everything´s straightforward.

‘In terms of GP IT in general, it´s disappointing because it means the market is contracting which results in less incentive to innovate.

‘The GPC’s advice would be: don´t panic, make sure you have a look at all the available systems and consider the impact on third party applications. You have a free choice of which system to go for. I don’t want to hear of a single GP being coerced into one system or another by their PCT or CCG.’

Dr Grant Ingrams, a GP in Coventry and former GPCIT subcommittee chair, said the migration would be ‘a headache’.

‘Migrating causes huge upheaval, ‘he said. ‘There’s normally a delay of a day or two in switching over from one system to another. No two systems are completely intra-operable. So you can lose some data quality.

He added: ‘Practices should also keep a copy of the previous system´s records in perpetuity. If you’ve a complaint relating to that time you´ll need to go back to the old records.

System migration pitfalls

  • Reactivation of archived prescriptions 
  • Mapping errors resulting in different unrelated medications being linked (Quinine/Quinadine) 
  • Issues with preservation of units of measure due to how different systems interpret decimal points

Source: The Good Practice Guidelines for GP Electronic Patient Records Version 4 2011