GP practice warns change to IT system could be detrimental to patient care

GPs in Chepstow are warning of disruption to patient care after being forced by the Welsh Government to switch IT systems.

Mount Pleasant Practice is among half of GP practices in Wales currently using the EMIS Web service to record and share patient data.

But the leading IT firm has been dropped as a preferred provider following an NHS Wales procurement process.

EMIS users will instead be transitioned to a new provider via a phased process over the next two years as part of a revamped primary care deal approved by the Welsh Government.

It is intended to award the contract for GP clinical systems and services to two suppliers – Vision Health Ltd and Microtest Ltd.

Dr Richard Davies, a partner at Mount Pleasant Practice, said change on such a large scale will potentially decrease GPs’ clinical time and create “enormous upheaval". 

“It is going to cause a huge amount of disruption,” he said.

“We face major costs in terms of extra staff training to implement the changes required.

“There is a great deal of information on our current system and it will be very difficult to ensure that it all transfers over.

“I have heard some older GPs are considering retirement rather than take on the strain of migrating to new IT software.

“More worrying is the real risk that this may well lead to people leaving the profession and ultimately impacting on patient care.”

Monmouth MP David Davies, who has met with Dr Davies to discuss the system switch, expressed grave concerns.

“The EMIS Web service, which is used by 195 GP practices in Wales, is also widely used across England thereby enabling a smooth transfer of records for patients who move between England and Wales,” he said.

“I cannot understand why the Welsh Government wants to fix something which is working fine and impose a whole host of extra problems on GPs who are already under significant pressure.

“I have written to Health Secretary Vaughan Gething urging him to reconsider.”