NHS Wales has cancelled its contract with Microtest following “unacceptable delays” in getting its clinical software out to GPs.
Microtest had been contracted to deliver its clinical systems to Welsh GPs over a four-year period after being awarded onto Wales’s primary care IT framework in 2018.
NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS) has now announced that this contract has been aborted “by mutual agreement”, after Microtest was unable to “deliver the hosted clinical software and meet the integration requirements of NHS Wales within the timescales that would allow GP practices to transition from the previous contractual arrangements.”
An NWIS spokesperson said: “The decision to end the contract was not arrived at lightly, with several factors contributing, including the impact that the delays were having on practices in planning for their migration to a new system.
“We are extremely disappointed with this outcome, but it is the best course of action for Welsh GPs, practice staff and the patients that they care for. The NHS Wales Informatics Service and the GMS IM&T Programme Board are committed to delivering clinical software that will enhance and support the vital work of family doctors in Wales.”
Dr Phil White, chair of Wales General Practitioners Committee (GPC), said the committee supported the decision to cancel the contract.
“GPC Wales has been fully involved in the procurement process, and consistently highlighted the impact that unacceptable delays were having on practices in planning for their migration to a new system,” he added
“We remain committed to engaging with the consultation process to ensure that the views of the profession are represented and that clinical IT systems are not only fit for purpose but will improve and support the working practices of GPs in Wales.”
The cancellation of the agreement throws the next stages of NHS Wales’s GP IT framework into uncertainty.
Microtest was selected as one of two clinical systems suppliers for NHS Wales NWIS on behalf of the General Medical Services (GMS) IM&T Programme Board and Health Boards.
Its contract win came after NHS Wales’s previously dominant primary care supplier, EMIS Health, had its framework bid rejected after failing to meet evaluation criteria.
Nearly two-thirds of EMIS Health practices in Wales subsequently elected to migrate to Microtest Open Evolution, as well as a number of GP surgeries using the INPS Vision electronic patient record system.
The company said it had won over 111 GP surgeries following presentations of its Open Evolution software, labelling it an “important new business win”.
Chris Netherton, managing director of Microtest, said: “Although we were very much looking forward to supplying Wales practices and we have greatly enjoyed working closely with NWIS, the Welsh Health Boards and Welsh practices, we will now be focussing on other existing and new opportunities for the Microtest business.”
NHS Wales confirmed that it had not made any service payments to Microtest as the system had not yet been implemented.
GPs will continue with their current clinical IT systems supplied by EMIS and Vision Health pending a review of GP clinical systems in Wales, which is anticipated to be completed in January 2020.