The new national contract for GP clinical systems has been delayed until the end of the year.

GP Systems of Choice is a framework contract which funds GP IT systems in England.

More than 80% of practices use a system provided through the framework which expires in April.

The NHS Commissioning Board has been working to get a new contract in place, but confirmed to eHealth Insider that the process is delayed. The current arrangement will be extended and it hopes to have a new framework ready by the end of the year.

A board spokesperson said it had been consulting with stakeholders regarding a replacement for GPSoC.

“We are progressing both an extension to the current GPSoC arrangements from the end of March 2013, and for a new GPSoC framework by the end of 2013,” the spokesperson said.

“Both of these will be dependent on receipt of the necessary approvals from the Department of Health, the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury.”

Former chair of the BCS Primary Health Care Group Ewan Davis described the delay as “unfortunate” as it was important to have stability and certainty regarding funding of GP systems.

However, he felt it was necessary in order to “get it right”.

“From what I have seen of the proposals for GPSoC-2, I think they are getting right.”.

Davis expected the new GPSoC contract to look “broadly similar” to current arrangements, but with the requirement that the companies open their systems to third-party suppliers.

“The key feature is going to be the extent to which version-two requires system suppliers to open up their systems to third party suppliers by way of appropriate interface tools,” he said.

The challenge would be enforcing that requirement on the ground.

While all the primary system providers did third-party integrations, companies producing something that enhanced a GP clinical system or did not compete with it had a much easier time interfacing than those that did compete, he explained.

Davis was confident that a new framework could be in place by the end of 2013.

“The barriers to progress have predominantly been about deciding what it is they want to do at a policy level rather than the details being worked out between the GPSoC team and system suppliers,” he said.

The first GPSoC contract negotiation was launched in March 2006 and approved by Treasury in July 2007.