Not all digital services are centrally commissioned. Integrated care boards (ICBs), primary care networks (PCNs) and practices can make use of IT frameworks, as well as using procurement and commissioning support services. The GP IT Operating Model provides comprehensive guidance on the commissioning, procurement and contract management of GP IT services.
GPIT Operating Model
The NHS provides practices with digital services as required by the GP Contract and the ICB-Practice Agreement. Details of how these digital services should be provided, the standards they should meet and how they are funded, are published in the GP IT Operating Model. ICBs have responsibility to commission and/or provide these services to their practices.
The GP IT Operating Model is regularly updated to assist them in this activity.
You may be familiar with the GP IT Futures framework which expired on 31 March 2023. This means you can no longer carry out new procurements of solutions and services offered under that framework.
Continuity contracts have been put in place to ensure that you continue to have access to purchased solutions and services until the go live date of the replacement (scheduled for summer/autumn 2023.
See the GP IT Futures systems and services web pages for the latest information.
Digital care services (DCS) catalogue
The default route for the procurement of digital services for general practice and PCNs is via the DCS Catalogue. The catalogue allows commissioners and primary care (providers) to buy centrally assured digital tools and systems from frameworks under the DCS catalogue, via the buying catalogue, including:
- Digital First Online and Video Consultation and Video Consultation (DFOVC)
- Technical Innovation
- Digital Care Services Cloud Telephony
Health systems support framework (HSSF)
The HSSF can be used by NHS trusts and other care providers, GP, primary care and community providers, local authorities, ICB and a wide range of public sector bodies, where they support health and social care in general.
HSSF comprises 9 service categories which include electronic patient records, shared records, informatics and analytics, tools and applications for direct patient care, surveys, transformation support, patient empowerment/activation, system optimisation, and workforce development.
NHS England has developed guidance to help simplify the digital and IT framework landscape, remove duplication, and reduce costs. This consists of 38 framework agreements classified into 6 pillars which include clinical/non-clinical hardware, software and services. These include the NHS England managed frameworks under the DCS Catalogue and HSSF above, but also include frameworks from Crown Commercial Services (CCS), Shared Business Services (SBS), the North of England Commercial Procurement Collaborative (NOECPC) and the London Procurement Partnership (LPP).
ICBs are responsible for a budgeted plan for GP IT equipment refresh which includes desktop PCs, laptops, monitors, scanners, smartcard readers, and printers etc.
The ICB is required to maintain a local warranted environment specification (WES). This should ensure hardware specifications meet requirements and should include the locally agreed infrastructure lifecycle to facilitate a systematic refresh and replacement programme. GP IT capital and other sources of funds can be used to provide and refresh the necessary IT infrastructure.
Clinical software or medical devices
Where ICBs or individual practices procure clinical software or medical devices which interact with the clinical software and patient record from routes other than those recommended here, assurances should be sought that the supplier has applied, if applicable, to the product current medical device regulations:
- Medical Devices (Amendment etc.) (EU 41 Exit) Regulations 2020
- Medicines and Medical Devices Act 2021
Users of such software and medical devices should follow manufacturer’s instruction for use (IFU). Any change of use needs to be properly assured with the manufacturer’s knowledge/permission as any ‘off label’ use will mean that the user has taken on the responsibilities/liabilities of the manufacturer/developer. The Digital technology assurance criteria (DTAC) will be helpful in securing these assurances.
Locally procured digital systems and technologies
Where the recommended frameworks above cannot be used, practices, ICBs and PCNs may choose to procure clinical systems, technologies and digital services (i.e. the ‘product’) through other procurement arrangements.
Where the product being procured in this way includes processing of patient identifiable information the provider must be able to offer assurances where applicable as described below. The use of the Digital Technology Assessment Criteria is strongly recommended in establishing such assurances. Note DTAC is applicable to each product not the provider organisation. The GP IT Operating Model contains a list of these criteria.
General practice business systems
This covers systems and services which a practice may use for business purposes, enabling the non-clinical business functions to operate and support the practice as a business organisation to fulfil the GP contract. These are the practice’s responsibility to choose, procure and fund. They include practice websites, telephony, business systems (e.g. payroll and accounting systems), estate (for example power, comms rooms, air conditioning), IT consumables, legal and regulatory responsibilities (e.g. Health and Safety regulations compliance).
GP IT revenue funding is included in ICB core baseline allocations. Priority must be given to funding the core and mandated digital requirements described in the GP IT Operating Model, for both practices and additional roles associated with PCNs. Any remaining funds should be used to support the wider transformation of digital primary care.
ICBs can, at their discretion, invest additional funding.
Additional revenue funding is allocated direct to ICBs to support infrastructure and resilience dealing with specific technology upgrade programmes which are key to providing safe, robust and secure IT services.
Capital funding for GP IT is included in integrated care systems’ (ICS) capital envelopes, within their primary care allocation. ICS are responsible for the management of GP IT requirements within their capital envelope. Capital is not a delegated function of ICBs, and all GP IT remains in NHS England regional team ownership. This funding is designated to deliver, as first priority, the systematic refresh of the GP IT estate for both practices and additional roles associated with PCNs, in line with the requirements of the GP IT Operating Model.
The Digital Primary Care Maturity Assurance Model will continue to develop and underpin the tracking of local and national progress in meeting the mandated requirements in this Operating Model and other enhanced and transformational digital improvements.