NHS Digital intends to put out a half-a-billion-pound tender for a new general practice IT framework.

The organisation has published a prior information notice to kick-start interest in the new Digital Care Services framework, which will replace the outgoing GP Systems of Choice (GPSoC) agreement.

Dubbed GP IT Futures, the £450 million contract will provide a contract vehicle for GPs, CCGs and other NHS Digital customers to purchase IT systems and services, managed by the national body.

The new framework will extend support to community and mental health providers, as well as to emerging models of care such as GP federations and integrated care organisations.

The prior information notice invites supplies to express interest in the upcoming procurement and offer feedback to NHS Digital.

Martin Warden, director of the digital transformation in general practice programme at NHS Digital, said: “This is a step-change towards ensuring the continued relevance and resilience of primary care IT systems to meet evolving NHS needs.

“The new framework will improve access to GP data for patients and the NHS, as well as enabling digitised workflows in and between care settings to support better patient care.”

Currently, GPSoC enables buyers to purchase systems from four principal suppliers – TPP, EMIS, InPS Vision and Microtest – and bolt subsidiary tools on top.

The GP IT Futures framework will move away from having principal and subsidiary systems to one that supports modularity, with a view to making it easier for new market entrants to provide services to primary care.

It should also make it easier for buyers to shop around which, given a few bad press days for TPP and EMIS in recent months, could prove tempting.

NHS Digital said the arrangement would “enable the purchase of systems and services in a more dynamic market” and “unlock wider benefits for the whole care system”.

The services provided under the new GP IT framework will cover the provision of applications to meet the business requirements of primary care. This includes electronic record and patient management systems for general practice, as well as ancillary services such as document management and clinical support systems.

NHS Digital is particularly keen to hear from suppliers that can deliver new ways of working in general practice and support cross-organisational collaboration.

This includes – but is not limited to – patient record systems for multi-disciplinary settings, digital services that can be integrated into the clinical desktop, patient-facing appointment-booking apps and digital therapy services.

Suppliers have until 31 October to register their interest, with the contract notice expected to be published on 7 January 2019.