This site is intended for health professionals only

NHSE deny claims they tried to ‘frustrate’ GP collective action

NHSE deny claims they tried to ‘frustrate’ GP collective action

NHS England’s director of primary care has rejected the BMA’s claims that it had tried to stop GPs from switching off an update to GP Connect – one of the collective actions put forward by the union.

GPs across England took urgent action last weekend to switch off a GP Connect update permitting community pharmacies to add codes to patient records as part of Pharmacy First, following instructions from the BMA.

This was initially part of potential GP industrial action to commence on 1 August, but the GPC instructed practices on Friday to do so immediately after finding out NHS England had contacted GP IT systems providers in a bid to ‘frustrate’ this action.

Yesterday TPP told Pulse: ‘TPP have recently received a request from NHS England to remove the option for practices to opt-out of incoming Pharmacy First Update Record messages. We are not making this change.

‘We are currently in discussions with NHS England regarding this. We will keep practices updated and no changes will be made without significant prior notice.’

But NHS England’s national director for primary care Dr Amanda Doyle said that the suggestion that NHSE was trying to prevent practices from switching the update off was ‘completely inaccurate’.

Today NHS England sent a letter to GPs and practice managers saying that ‘GP IT suppliers are not removing the opt-out button’ and that every practice ‘has a choice of how to configure their GP IT system’.

In a statement, Dr Doyle also said that ‘it is odd that any GP would choose to turn this service off’ as this would create more workload.

She said: ‘It is completely inaccurate to suggest that there are any imminent changes being made to stop GPs switching off the GP Connect functionality if they choose to. 

‘Consultation outcomes from Pharmacy First, including any medicines issued, can now arrive directly into a practice workflow, for checking and filing with one click, which increases clinical safety and reduces the administrative burden. 

‘The NHS introduced this functionality to make GPs working lives easier and improve patient outcomes – so it is odd that any GP would choose to turn this service off and revert to manually inputting data from emails, increasing their workload and taking up more time.’

The GPC had said that while the functionality currently only permits Pharmacy First updates, ‘this is about its future potential’ which will be ‘the biggest workload dump imaginable’.

But Dr Doyle said: ‘There is no plan currently to extend this use beyond Pharmacy First and any changes would always involve consultation with the GPC and RCGP.’

GPC deputy chair and digital lead Dr David Wrigley said that the committee is currently in discussions with NHSE ‘to better understand the implication of this software’ but it is still recommending practices turn it off.

He said: ‘We are recommending to GPs that they turn off the Update Record facility on GP Connect at the present time while we engage in discussions with NHSE to better understand the implications of this software.

‘As GPs are responsible for the information within a patient’s record – which can be now viewed by a patient – we are concerned about changes that allow others to add diagnoses, observations and medications.

‘These changes could have unintended consequences and add further pressure to the GP needing to ensure follow up and ongoing care is provided to the patient due to other clinicians decisions and actions.

‘This will include more requests for follow ups and support for patients for work initiated by others outside the practice team.

‘As data controllers, GPs have a responsibility to have full oversight of the data of their patients. We’re not saying “no” to this development, just “not yet”.’

The GP Connect Update Record API was rolled out in March to connect practices’ systems to community pharmacy and enable updates as part of the Pharmacy First scheme.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Robert Caudwell 2 July, 2024 5:04 pm

Either TPP or NHSE are not telling the truth. Note the word “imminent” in the NHSE letter

Nick Mann 2 July, 2024 7:49 pm

The two relevant statements from NHSE and TPP are mutually incompatible. How has it become acceptable to lie to the profession and the public and remain unchallenged? A statutory duty of candour should apply. Who’s the regulator?

Samir Shah 3 July, 2024 6:31 am

NHSE denys claims of trying to frustrate General Practice.
Next article,
NHSE denys trying to destroy general practice. Primary care director says that they didn’t mean it.

Bonglim Bong 3 July, 2024 9:08 am

Someone needs to:
1 – Do a freedom of information request to NHSE – for documents sent to TPP or EMIS about the removal of this button.
2 – Ideally someone at TPP/ EMIS should share the trail of information that led to them telling the BMA that they had been instructed to do this by July.

In any interpretation of English – by the start of July is imminent on 1st-3rd July.
Part of the reason for having clinicians in senior roles is that they are bound by their professional duty not to lie. If this is clearly proven to be untrue:
She said: ‘It is completely inaccurate to suggest that there are any imminent changes being made to stop GPs switching off the GP Connect functionality if they choose to.”
Then that is a breach of her professional standards.

Mark Howson 3 July, 2024 10:03 am

@Nick Mann Amanda Doyle’s regulator is the GMC. Her role at NHSE is covered by the GMC.