LMCs to debate no confidence motion in PCOs IT

  • 6 June 2005

IT funding for GPs, Choose and Book and patient confidentiality are all set to be the subject of criticism from GPs at this month’s national local medical committees’ conference.

Motions to the conference include one calling for Choose and Book to be abandoned and several claiming that patient confidentiality is being put at risk by government policies on IT.

LMC representatives will also hear that PCTs are struggling to cope with their new responsibility to fund and run GP systems as part of the new GMS contract.

North Cumbria LMC has submitted a motion that claims GPs lack confidence in the NHS to fully fund IT for practice use.

The motion from North Cumbria adds: “This view is based on the bitter daily experiences of significant and persistent failures in IT investment and PCO IT organisation.”

Dr Colin Patterson, chairman of North Cumbria LMC and a GP in Carlisle, said PCOs in his areas were struggling to cope with a large overall deficit and that together with lack of investment in IT in secondary care it meant that primary care was missing out.

He told EHI Primary Care: “The government comes along with five major IT requirements but in health economies like ours we haven’t got the capacity, the expertise or the money to do it. Too much is being asked too quickly.”

Dr Patterson said his practice needed a new computer system 18 months ago and many other North Cumbria GPs were in a similar situation. Although he has been a promised a new system later in the year in the mean time he is left to cope.

He added: “Before the new contract came in we would have paid for half of a new system, the PCO would have paid for the other half and they wouldn’t have had to worry about it because we would have done it.

“Now we are in a situation where we have computers that crash every two or three days and although that’s not acceptable our PCO does not have the money or the time to do anything about it.”

Somerset LMC has submitted a motion describing Choose and Book as “an unworkable solution to an old problem” and called for it to be abandoned.

LMC secretary Dr Harry Yoxall said Choose and Book was no longer necessary in his area where waiting times were down to 13 weeks for an outpatient appointment and six months for inpatient surgery and falling all the time. He said almost all patients also preferred to go to their local district general hospital of which there are two in Somerset.

He told EHI Primary Care: “The problem is that current government policies are based on what works in Islington not Illminster. Our official LMC policy is that we do not support Choose and Book in its present form and the average GP is not very enthusiastic.”

Dr Yoxall said that before the advent of Choose and Book Somerset had started planning for its referral management centre to handle bookings and he hoped these plans would now be revived.

The LMCs’ conference On June 16 and 17 in London will also hold a debate on patient confidentiality and data protection and consider a prioritised motion that patient confidentiality is at risk from “the accelerating drift towards centralised recording of information on individuals which goes far beyond public health needs.”


LMCs conference

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