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  • NHS Digital announces patient de-identification software partnership

    NHS Digital announces patient de-identification software partnership

    Thursday, 05 July 2018 16:48
  • Over half of acute trusts are now using GP e-Referral Service

    Over half of acute trusts are now using GP e-Referral Service

    Thursday, 14 June 2018 14:29
  • NEWS app for sepsis scoring available

    NEWS app for sepsis scoring available

    Monday, 04 June 2018 09:58
  • NHS launches National Data Opt-Out facility

    NHS launches National Data Opt-Out facility

    Thursday, 31 May 2018 09:01
  • ePACT to be decommissioned on June 8 as ePACT2 takes over

    ePACT to be decommissioned on June 8 as ePACT2 takes over

    Tuesday, 29 May 2018 12:48

keyboard-stethJuly 8 2015

The IT system being designed to allow government and the NHS to access general practice data has been heavily criticised by the National Audit Office.

While the original business plan for the General Practice Extraction Service was for it to start in 2008-09, it was not until April 2014 that any data was supplied - to NHS England, which is as yet the only customer.

In addition, the expected total cost for the project increased from £14 million to £40 million during the planning and procurement stage. “Further cost increases have been smaller, but the project has had at least £5.5 million of write-offs and delay costs,” says the NAO.

Summarising its findings, the NAO said “the vision for the GPES project as a comprehensive source of data on general practice has not been achieved. The project is delayed and many customers have not received data.

“Mistakes in the original procurement and contract management contributed to losses of public funds, through asset write-offs and settlements with suppliers. The need for the service remains and further public expenditure is needed to improve GPES or replace it.”

The NAO states, though, that GPES can extract data from all GP practices in England, unlike existing systems. However: “The time needed to design a new type of extract, and restrictions in the contracts, severely limits HSCIC’s ability to provide data to those who request it. It is unlikely that GPES in its current form can provide the NHS-wide service planned.”

The Health and Social Care Information Centre which has responsibility for the GPES has responded saying that “significant issues occurred with GPES in the years before the inception of the HSCIC, which was created two years ago with a new mandate, structure and senior leadership team. It is clear the GPES procurement and design stage was not good enough, regardless of the intent of predecessor bodies.”

HSCIC added that it took on full responsibility for delivering a data extraction service that is operationally and financially efficient. “We are maximising the working aspects of GPES and replacing those parts that do not work. Our focus is on developing a suitable service that meets the needs of the NHS and patients,” it said.

Among the steps HSCIC has taken include having installed an entirely new senior team of technical experts to run GPES. It says that HSCIC’s first priority was to stabilise the services to make sure that it could facilitate QOF payments to the more than 8,000 GP practices in England; so far it has ensured QOF payments of £1.7 billion have been paid. It is also increased efficiency in live reports and added automated enhanced payments for conditions such as dementia, learning disabilities and rotavirus.

“After stabilising the service we are working with organisations that have previously made extract requests to agree on their current requirements and be realistic on what can be achieved. We expect to complete 24 different types of data extract in 2015-16,” said HSCIC.

“We are working hard with system suppliers to ensure that together we ensure GPES runs at full capacity and that new contract negotiations move forward in a positive way. We are exploiting all technological aspects of the current service and are expanding on this with our technical expertise to make the extraction process faster.”

Links:

NAO announcement

NAO ‘General Practice Extraction Service – Investigation’ report    

HSCIC response    

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