A Hertfordshire IT manager reported that he was laughed at when he told his local service provider (LSP) that he wanted to use an EMIS computer system rather than the two systems offered routinely in his area.

The position apparently flies in the face of a pledge in March from John Hutton, then health minister, that GPs would be allowed a choice of computer systems from the full range of providers with LSP contracts around England.

Peter Edwards, systems and development manager at the Knebworth and Marymead Practice, told an expert panel of senior executives from EMIS attending the EMIS National Users Group conference at Warwick University that at various conferences in his cluster (Eastern) he had been told that his practice would only be allowed to choose between TPP and Torex. EMIS was not part of their terms of reference.

He said: “When I talked to Accenture they laughed. People from the Department of Health have said they don’t want to digress…”

Edwards told EHI Primary Care after the conference that he had raised the question of being able to choose EMIS rather than the two systems preferred by the LSP and been told EMIS was not part of their agreement and they won’t be offering it. He said: “They smirk when they are saying that. I find them incredibly arrogant.”

“We are perfectly happy to stay put with EMIS. It’s an uncomplicated system that looks good and works well,” he added.

EMIS managing director, Sean Riddell, told the conference: “It’s worth pointing out that this is totally at odds with what the [national] programme [for IT] says and totally at odds with what the minister said.”

He said EMIS had a contract with CSC, the LSP for the North-West and West Midlands, and had met all the necessary interoperability standards.

This should mean that any practice in England can opt for an EMIS system if the staff wish, not just practices in the CSC area.

Riddell explained: “LSPs have to agree with each other on how they operate this. LSPs are trying to agree this. I’m having a meeting with Connecting for Health every two weeks.”

Chair of the EMIS national users group, Dr Manpreet Pujara, said he would like to hear from practices that were encountering problems, a request echoed by Dr Trefor Roscoe, a member of the GPC IT committee, which negotiates with the government on GPs’ behalf.

Dr Pujara said the difficulties should be temporary but that if they were not sorted out, another campaign would be started to make sure practices were able to choose the systems they preferred.

E-Health Insider asked Accenture to comment on its policy towards practices that want to switch to or continue to use and upgrade GP systems from suppliers – not just EMIS – that are not currently under contract to Accenture. A spokesman said: "We are committed to offering physicians a choice of solutions — and understand they will each want to make the best decision for their practices."


We also asked for the firm’s view of the responses described to questions about switching to or continuing to use EMIS systems. the spokesman said: "We do take all physician inquiries very seriously and greatly regret that anyone has this impression."

If any readers have had experienced similar frustrations in trying to exercise the promised right to choose which practice system they use please contact us in confidence mailto:editor@e-health-media.com.