GP representatives in Scotland will this week hear criticism of government plans for an integrated primary and community care system and calls for Scottish GPs to have an initiative to guarantee IT system choice.
The Scottish Local Medical Committees’ conference will debate a motion criticising the Scottish Government’s plan to procure an Integrated Primary and Community Care (IPACC) system and phase out use of GPASS.
Dr Peter Wiggins from Glasgow LMC will tell the conference that imposing a system on doctors could result in the same problems that have dogged the government funded system GPASS.
He told EHI Primary Care: “GPASS was a good system 20 years ago but because it didn’t have to meet user requirements all that changed. Five years down the line IPACC could be another dog’s breakfast.”
Scotland hopes to begin a national procurement for IPACC this summer following its publication of a tender for a Patient Management System last week.
In a letter to health boards in February the Scottish government said NHS boards would be able to keep existing systems if they meet their business needs. However it adds: “The one exception to this is GPASS where choice at a Board level will further increase the gap between the unit costs of the in-house product and the alternatives. Removing this extra cost is a fundamental part of the case for additional support for IPACC. If GPASS remains a centrally funded product there will need to be an agreed date beyond which the service is no longer available.”
The vast majority of GP practices still currently use GPASS although nearly 200 practices have now switched to INPS’s Vision system. There are also practices using EMIS and iSoft systems.
Dr Wiggins says it is unclear whether the IPACC procurement will lead to the procurement of a system from an existing primary care supplier such as EMIS, INPS and TPP or the creation of a new system.
He added: “They may try to invent a Lorenzo. While things are not clear in the public domain I want to make sure our concerns about this are heard.”
Dr Alan McDevitt from Glasgow LMC said a previous agreement on IT system choice had not been fully implemented by all NHS boards because GPASS was available at little cost to them and there was a disincentive to switch practices to other systems.
He told EHI Primary Care: “It’s just so much better if GPs can choose the system they want to use themselves.”
The Scottish LMCs’ conference will also hear criticism of SCI Gateway, the country’s system for electronic transfer of information between primary and secondary care, which some doctors claim requires greater funding and more GP input.
The conference will also debate a motion claiming that NHS 24 is “a huge waste of resources” and deploring any moves to recentralise the service.