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RCGP chair: ‘It takes 17 minutes to log on to my surgery on a Monday morning’

The outgoing RCGP chair has admitted that it takes her nearly 20 minutes to start her computer in her practice. 

Speaking with the health secretary about IT in general practice via Skype at the RCGP annual conference, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard confessed that her practice still uses Windows 7, which takes 17 minutes to log onto her surgery. 

Matt Hancock said it was ‘outrageous’ that it takes her so long to log in and that you ‘can’t patch Windows 7 anymore’.

Mr Hancock was due to address GP delegates with his ministerial speech last Thursday. However, as ministers are still debating the Queen’s speech in Parliament, he could not attend the conference, resorting to a live video link.

The quality of the call first appeared mediocre and cut, which left the audience of thousands of GPs and other healthcare professionals unable to hear what he was saying at times

Aware of the issue, Mr Hancock said: ‘It’s great to be able to join you today through the wonders of modern technology. And if this call cuts out, it’s probably due to the patchy Wifi in Westminster rather than a failure with the tech.’

He then told the conference that ‘tech is our friend’ and will ‘transform the delivery of primary care’.

In response, Professor Stokes-Lampard said: ‘Tech is our friend and I would absolutely agree with you that technology can help us to be better clinicians and better diagnosticians and spend time with our patients but right now I’m still working on Windows 7 in my own practice.

‘It takes 17 minutes to log on to my surgery on a Monday morning and if I get through a morning surgery without it crashing, sorry Matt it’s so true.

‘There is a big shift we need to do to get the basics right Matt. I want GP to GP record transfer to just happen so many of the problems happen at the interface […]. What can we do to speed things up?

Mr Hancock said: ‘The biggest frustration for me is just the low grade of most technology. Now, primary care is actually better than many hospitals. We just show how much more there is to travel in secondary care as well.

‘Of course we’ve got to have the budget for it and the upgrades. I think that one of the reasons that the demand comes from inside the system as well as from patients on this is because we use this technology at home, we all use our phones, we’re able to do this sort of Skype calls, and then you go to the office and 17 minutes to log on it’s totally outrageous and Windows 7. I don’t think that you can patch Windows 7 anymore.

‘We’ve got to solve it and make sure we have the investment but also the root of things like interoperability.’

Echoing Professor Stokes-Lampard’s comments, Dr Ben Milton, a Derbyshire GP and primary care network clinical director, said: ‘Certainly I can relate to Helen’s comments yesterday about the 17 minutes to log in, it frequently takes me a good 10 minutes to log in.’

 In June, GPs who were part of a video consultation pilot advised the NHS to not roll out the scheme until there was ‘improved technical infrastructure’