Health secretary outlines intention to replace outgoing deal with ‘open, competitive’ market
Bidding has opened for a spot on the new £500m framework through which GPs will buy IT systems.
According to health secretary Matt Hancock, the GP IT Futures deal will focus on cloud-based technologies that can enable the seamless sharing of information between primary- and secondary-care environments, as well as social services. The NHS wishes to attract a range of leading technology firms to participate in a market that is currently dominated by two products: EMIS Web; and SystmOne from TPP.
“I believe it should be as easy for a GP surgery to switch IT provider as it is for a small business to switch bank accounts,” Hancock said. “Under the new contract, providers will have to follow our standards on interoperability and data access. Systems will need to be continuously upgradeable. Patient data will need to be securely hosted in the cloud.”
The health secretary added: “Sick patients should not be having to explain ‘why are you here’ for the umpteenth time every time they meet a new clinician, or carting round bulging folders of notes from appointment to appointment. Your medical records should be accessible from wherever you are the NHS, just as you can get to your emails from any device.”
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The framework is due to come into effect by the end of current fiscal year, and run for at least three years. It is divided into two lots, the first of which accounts for the vast majority – £484m – of its estimated £500m value.
This lot covers the provision of applications that will “meet the business requirements of general practice and broader primary care and may incorporate community and adult social care providers”.
Lot two, which accounts for the remaining £16m of the deal’s estimated value, will mostly be used by central government or NHS Digital. This section covers the provision of certain additional services, which may include undertaking feasibility studies, defining or improving existing standards, and developing additional software programs.
All suppliers from the first lot will be included in the second, unless they specify in their tender that they are opting out of doing so.
Bidding is open until 5 July.
Sarah Wilkinson, chief executive of NHS Digital, said: “We are absolutely committed to ensuring GPs have access to high quality technology systems and services, and that those systems also comply with standards and integrate effectively with the rest of the health and care system, so that hospitals and GPs have a full view of a patient’s record and can care for them safely and efficiently. We are looking forward to working with incumbent and new providers over the coming months to ensure that from the start of next year GPs have a choice of high-quality systems providers.”