The major primary care software vendors turned out in force to woo jilted CSC primary care customers in Cheltenham today.

More than 200 users of Synergy, Premiere and Ganymede have gathered at a packed iSoft National User Group conference at Cheltenham Park Hotel to hear the sales pitches from TPP, EMIS, INPS and Microtest.

As first reported by EHI in September, CSC has announced it is pulling support for its primary care products from October next year. The 400-odd practices using CSC primary care systems now need to quickly find new suppliers, resulting in a surge in interest in the iSUG event.

CSC has a contractual relationship with one of the alternative suppliers, TPP, but under the terms of the national GP Systems of Choice framework, practices have a clear right to choose their supplier.

GPSoC means that, in theory, each individual GP practice must make its own decision, but many expect primary care trusts to seek to influence choices to standardise systems. In many parts of England, CSC primary care practices are islands in a sea of TPP, INPS or EMIS.

A number of the delegates expressed resigned frustration at having been let down by first iSoft and latterly CSC over recent years and there was anger that CSC Healthcare’s UK managing director used his presentation to give a sales pitch for TPP.

“He should have just said he was sorry on behalf of CSC Healthcare and left the suppliers to do their own pitches, quite a lot of people felt that wasn’t right,” said John Clegg, vice chair of iSUG.

Clegg told EHI Primary Care that the clock was ticking on practices to make a decision on which supplier to switch to.

“Most won’t want to move before April when they have to do their QoF returns, but they really need to decide now and no later than Christmas.”

The GP suppliers are offering time-limited deals to encourage people to sign quickly. EMIS are offering a special, including transfer costs and a free practice website for anyone who commits by Christmas.

INPS’s deal includes half price on BMJ Informatica and all conversion costs for £5,000.

EMIS and TPP also offered tempting deal.

Clegg said that most people would only want to move once, due to the disruption involved in a move of practice systems.

"Whatever system people decide to switch to now they are expecting to stick with and remain on indefinitely," he said.