Hancock launches new GP IT Futures framework

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has revealed the new GP IT Futures framework, which will create an open, competitive market to encourage the best technology companies to invest in the NHS.

This will mean supplying cloud-based, modern systems that can share life-saving patient information seamlessly and securely - from GPs to hospitals and social care settings. The changes will allow GPs to choose the best technologies to meet their needs, to improve efficiency and will enable more patients to take control of their care, including through accessing digital services such as video consultations.

NHS Digital has issued an invitation to tender for the GP IT Futures framework, signalling to innovative and ambitious technology companies that the NHS GP system supplier market is now open for business.

Hancock said: "I believe it should be as easy for a GP surgery to switch IT provider as it is for a small business to switch bank accounts.  Under the new contract, providers will have to follow our standards on interoperability and data access. Systems will need to be continuously upgradeable. Patient data will need to be securely hosted in the cloud.

“Sick patients should not be having to explain ‘why are you here’ for the umpteenth time every time they meet a new clinician, or carting round bulging folders of notes from appointment to appointment. Your medical records should be accessible from wherever you are the NHS, just as you can get to your emails from any device.”

Sarah Wilkinson, chief executive at NHS Digital, said: “We are absolutely committed to ensuring GPs have access to high quality technology systems and services, and that those systems also comply with NHS data standards and integrate effectively with the rest of the health and care system, so that hospitals and GPs have a full view of a patient’s record and can care for them safely and efficiently. We are looking forward to working with incumbent and new providers of these systems over the coming months to ensure that GPs have a choice of high quality systems providers.

“The government’s ongoing investment in NHS Digital’s Cyber Security Centre is enabling us to provide ever-stronger capabilities, systems and services to prevent, detect and respond to cyber attacks against the health and care system.”

Using a speech at the King’s Fund Digital Health and Care Congress, Hancock marked the two year anniversary since the global WannaCry cyber attack which significantly impacted NHS IT systems, by announcing a package of measures including £150 million for projects to improve resilience, including further bolstering the capability of NHS Digital’s Data Security Centre.

The centre has prevented over 21 million potential cyber attacks over the past three months, as well as over 640 million phishing attempts. This includes five nation-wide attacks which were blocked shortly after being detected, protecting vital NHS systems such as MRI scanners, refrigeration units storing organs and drugs, as well as basic IT.

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