NHS Wales has started rolling out a centrally hosted IT service to its GPs.

A new national framework contract for GP IT was agreed in mid-2012, with Emis and INPS named as the two successful suppliers.

The service is centrally hosted and the country’s 473 practices can choose which system to use.

The split so far is relatively even, with 257 practices choosing to take INPS’ Vision 360 and 210 to take Emis Web.

Implementation has begun, with 22 sites migrated to the hosted version of Vision 360.

Andrew MacBean, NHS Wales Informatics Service director for operational services, told EHI that the transition to Emis Web was slightly behind, but the first practice went live last week.

The roll-out will start in earnest from September, at an aggressive rate of 25 sites per month.

MacBean acknowledged this would be challenging for internal staff and suppliers, but was confident of achieving the targets.

He said there was a high level of buy-in from practices into the changed service and NWIS had no difficulty in getting practices to choose a supplier.

The decision to move to a centrally hosted service was based on data from calls made to supplier help desks over some years.

This showed the majority of calls were about connectivity issues or hardware support, which were not the specialty of suppliers.

Under the new system, GPs have one number to call if they have IT issues. A central team either deals with the problem or, in the case of software issues, passes the query to one of the suppliers.

MacBean said the central helpdesk teams had been beefed up to deal with increased call volumes, but the standardised service meant that the number of IT queries had already significantly reduced.

GPs also get a scanning and basic document management as part of the core contract.

NHS Wales went out to tender for a new GP IT Clinical System Services Framework Agreement in May 2011.

The deal replaces the Welsh GMS Systems and Services Framework Agreement in 2007, which included four suppliers – EMIS, INPS, iSoft and Healthy Software.


Read more about NHS Wales’ primary care IT strategy in Insight.