General practitioner England

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GPs warn of shortfall in IT support

Family doctors could face shortfalls in support for IT repairs and upgrades following a decision to delegate responsibility to new commissioning bodies, GP leaders have warned.

GP negotiator Chaand Nagpaul said GP leaders had been told ‘at a relatively late stage’ that the NHSCB (NHS Commissioning Board) planned to delegate the GP IT system support function to CCGs (clinical commissioning groups).

This work is currently the responsibility of PCTs. Although the NHSCB will maintain oversight, GP leaders say they are concerned some existing funding may not continue through the CCGs.

Dr Nagpaul said: ‘This is crucial because the delivery of services does depend on IT systems … It is crucial that the full resource is made available.’

He added that funding for such support had not been identified yet and was not included in the £25-per-patient management costs planned for CCGs. GP leaders say it is important to pool the various funding streams for GP IT support.

Outsourcing concern

Dr Nagpaul said another issue was the fact that CCGs were not set up to deliver IT support, which could mean they would be forced to outsource the role to commissioning support services.

He said funding needed to be identified so that CCGs did not have to spend from their ‘already squeezed budgets’.

An NHSCB spokesperson said: ‘Funding for IT will be separate from the £25-per-patient running cost allowance.’

‘IT requirements will vary dependent on local populations and health profiles, so CCGs will be best-placed to ensure arrangements are responsive to local patients’ needs while supporting local plans for service improvement and change, using funding devolved from the NHSCB. Further details on funding and operational models will be published soon.’

From April 2013, she said the NHSCB would be accountable for:

  • GP IT support services
  • Implementation and support for all appropriate nationally-mandated systems
  • Discretionary, locally-determined IT support services.