Headlines: January 30th, 2004

Family doctors will learn next week how much extra money their Primary Care Trusts are to get for IT equipment. The letters will be sent from the Health Minister John Hutton, who has announced that an extra 30 million pounds is being made available to ensure that general practitioners’ IT systems are ready for the implementation of their new contracts in April.The money comes in addition to the 20 million pounds already committed to primary care IT under the new contract agreement. It means that all family doctors should be able to have in place the systems necessary to process the clinical data that is central to the quality-based contracts. This is expected to bring about improvements not only to patient care but also to GPs’ rewards.

Mr. Hutton said the extra money would play an important part in the on-going process of implementing the new contracts and would allow Primary Care Trusts the flexibility to meet the full costs of maintenance and upgrades and would make sure all GPs had the right systems in place.

“The new primary care contracts offer us the opportunity to deliver a significant improvement in health services in primary care and we know that GPs and PCTs are working hard to make this a reality,” Mr. Hutton said.

The new money provides specific funding for the replacement of pre-RFA99 “legacy” systems, the implementation of systems for non-computerised practices and general funding for agreed major upgrades.