Primary care IT leaders have expressed concern about the late decisions that are being made on who will be responsible for GP IT in the future.
Asked to reflect on 2012 and to look ahead to 2013, Chaand Nagpaul, negotiator for the BMA’s General Practitioner Committee, said: “The key event in primary care IT was the decision by the NHS Commissioning Board to delegate responsibility for the operational management of GP IT and associated funding to clinical commissioning groups at a late stage.”
“Unfortunately, there is no clarity about the additional resources that CCGs will need to discharge this responsibility, for which CCGs have been given inadequate time to prepare.”
The NHS Commissioning Board announced at the start of December that CCGs would be expected to start commissioning GP IT services from commissioning support units or other providers by the end of the month.
In a paper on ‘Securing excellence in GP IT services’, the board said national funding will be delegated to CCGs to carry out their new role, which will include the implementation of systems, system updates, training and support services.
However, to add to the complexity of the arrangements, the ‘new’ Health and Social Care Information Centre will become responsible for procuring clinical systems covered by GPSoC, which will continue to be funded nationally, and will be expected to resolve problems that CCGs cannot resolve themselves.
Dr Mary Hawking, a Bedfordshire GP and long-standing expert on NHS IT, also felt that the guidance had not only come out very late but that “there is still no information about the funding that will be available for each CCG.
“This means that CCGs will be taking on responsibility for GP IT from a standing start and with many unanswered questions in just three months’ time.” This, she noted, is “not a long time outside politics!”
Asked to make predictions for the year ahead, EHI’s GP experts also predicted that the government’s commitments to give patients online access to their records by 2015 would finally start to have an impact.
The NHS CB’s first planning guidance for the NHS, issued in the week before Christmas, not only reiterated earlier pledges to give patients access to their GP record by this date, but promised a consultation on access to records across health and social care by June 2013.
Dr Amir Hannan, a pioneer of patient record access from his surgery in Hyde, greater Manchester, said he hoped practices would go beyond the government’s commitments and look at portals that offered a range of services to patients.
And one of Dr Hannan’s patients, Ingrid Brindle, told EHI PC that she hoped the same, after six years of accessing her records online.
“I’ve taken my medical records all over the UK and Europe, with just three passwords in my head. How would I have managed without it?” she asked.
Read all the predictions for 2013 in the Insight feature: Look back, move forward.
© 2012 EHealth Media.