NHS England has today (3 April) outlined plans for how more than £230 million in funding will be used to ensure all GP practices across England have high-quality IT systems.
Set out in an updated operating model for 2014-16, ‘Securing Excellence in GP IT Services’, the plans aim to improve the quality of GP care by enhancing patients’ experience of services, supporting and encouraging greater integration of care and providing efficiency benefits for practices by reducing paperwork, freeing up more time for patient care.
GPs have led the way in the move from paper to digital record-keeping and this model lays the foundations for all GP practices to be able to offer online transactions to patients in the future, such as booking appointments, ordering repeat prescriptions and accessing their individual health records online.
It also supports the aim of implementing integrated digital care records across the NHS, which will help make patients’ journeys seamless by giving health professionals in both hospitals and primary care access to the information they need, without patients having to constantly repeat themselves.
Under these arrangements, GP IT funding will be distributed to clinical commissioning groups based on patient population size, which is a significant change from previous models. This will ensure equity across all parts of England based on a core IT service offer. Alongside this, there will be a range of add-on IT services which can be tailored and implemented to fit with local service improvement strategies.
Having frontline clinicians at the forefront of this agenda will ensure GP IT services are designed in the best way to enable health and care professionals to do their jobs more effectively while providing better and more convenient services to patients.
Beverley Bryant, Director of Strategic Systems and Technology at NHS England, said: “Digital systems are the foundation upon which to build a modern, efficient and responsive health service. Enabling information to flow between care providers and between providers and patients will help achieve a safe, convenient and personalised health service for all.”
NHS England is also creating resources and networks to support practices, CCGs and other stakeholders to share with their peers what works for them, offer advice on best practice and collaborate on innovative ideas.
Tracey Grainger, Programme Head of Primary Care IT at NHS England, said: “These arrangements will continue to give general practice providers a choice of high quality clinical IT systems that are tailored to local requirements while enabling the flexibility and innovation we recognise the service needs. This is underpinned by an on-going commitment from NHS England to continue to support and encourage the development of a world class IT infrastructure across health and care.”
Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, said: “Having set a challenge to the NHS to become paperless by 2018, it is great to see NHS England helping GPs turn this into reality. GPs are often the first point of call for patients and it is vital they have computer systems fit for a 21st Century NHS. These improvements will help simplify services for patients and ensure we continue to provide a world class healthcare service.”
- There are also a number of additional materials and guidance to support the implementation of the GP IT operating arrangements.