• New centrally funded £450m framework for IT systems for GPs from next year
  • Will create new requirements for suppliers to share patient data
  • Comes amid concerns about a poorly functioning market, dominated by two suppliers

GPs will switch to a new centrally funded £450m IT framework from next year, as officials complain about a market failure and the slow rate of innovation.

Last week, NHS Digital published a prior information notice for the GP IT Futures framework in what will arguably be the biggest shake up of how IT is sold to GPs since 2007.

The framework, which the notice estimated will generate £450m of business, will replace the GP Systems of Choice next summer and will become the primary way that clinical commissioning groups purchase IT for GPs.

The new framework will also include tougher standards designed to force IT suppliers to open up access to patient data held on their systems and encourage more companies into the market.

It would continue to be funded nationally, as under its predecessor, but more control is expected to be handed to clinical commissioning groups.

It will also cover a broader range than its predecessor, including digital patient services and IT for integrated care systems.

“This is a step change away… that should make it easier for suppliers (including new entrants) to provide discrete capabilities, as well as providing buyers with more choice,” the notice stated.

It comes after several senior NHS leaders, including the new health and social care secretary Matt Hancock, warned that IT suppliers that restricted access to patient data could be cut off from the NHS market.

Speaking to HSJ in May, NHS chief clinical information officer, Dr Simon Eccles, singled out GP IT suppliers specifically.

He said: “If we take the next big framework to come out, which will be the GP IT framework. I would expect that if the data can’t freely flow out of those systems, they don’t get to be on the framework. If that causes changes in the GP IT market, so be it.”

Currently, the GP IT market is dominated by two suppliers, Emis and TPP, which between them supply the core clinical systems for about 90 per cent of all GPs in England.

In a series of industry briefings on the new framework, NHS Digital officials have argued there has been “market failure” in the current model.

“The market does not function well,” one presentation to industry on Tuesday, seen by HSJ, stated.

“There is a small supplier base (effectively a duopoly), little competition or pressure to innovate and a fixed, inflexible pricing mechanism.”

A full tender for inclusion in the framework is scheduled for publication towards the end of 2018, with the framework scheduled to go live next summer.

NHS Digital, Emis and TPP were approached for this story but did not provide comment before publication.