IT company’s “tea at the Ritz” offer to GP leaders

By Tony Collins

An IT supplier to the Department of Health and the NHS has offered “tea at The Ritz” or two tickets to a West End show to GP leaders in return for helping to organise an event that would give the company a chance to demonstrate its systems.

TPP SystmOne, which says in its marketing literature that its systems hold a third of the country’s patient records and have more than 90,000 users, has ceased to offer the incentives, the Department of Health told Campaign4Change.

“We were made aware and asked the supplier about this activity,” said a Department of Health spokesperson. “The supplier has subsequently confirmed that they have ceased offering incentives to GPs.”

TPP also offered GP leaders a £25 Marks and Spencer voucher; and wished Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to some potential customers with an offer of a box of Hotel Chocolat chocolates.

“To find out why 1800 GP practices have already moved to SystmOne, just call me on the number below to book your short GP demo. Book before 24th December to get a box of Hotel Chocolat chocolates on the day of your demonstration …”

In its separate offer of tea at The Ritz, a TPP SystmOne manager told the senior partner of a London health centre last year that the company’s system was available free of charge through the government-funded GP Systems of Choice initiative.

“Following recent success in the London area, TP are looking to sponsor local practice manager meetings. We’ll provide lunch and refreshments for all your attendees. As a thank-you the organiser of the event will receive afternoon tea at The Ritz or two tickets to a West End show of their choice! All we ask in return is a short slot at your meeting so we can demonstrate the benefits of SystmOne.”

Parts of the NHS have clearly-defined rules on the acceptance of gifts or hospitality. NHS Sheffield tells its staff:

“All offers of hospitality should be approached with caution. Modest hospitality, for example, a drink and sandwich during a visit or a working lunch is normal and reasonable and does not require approval of a manager. Offers of hospitality relating to theatre evenings, sporting fixtures, or holiday accommodation, or other hospitality must be declined…”

The guidance adds:

“Casual gifts by contractors or others, e.g. at Christmas time, must not be in any way connected with the performance of duties …”

TPP’s offer was not against the law. If all GP system suppliers offered the same or similar incentives, though, GP leaders could be inundated. Under the government’s health service reforms GPs who form part of Clinical Commissioning Groups will take on responsibility from primary care trusts for paying for GP systems.

We asked CSC, which supplies TPP SystmOne under the National Programme for IT, whether it was aware of the incentives and whether it, or TPP, wished to comment.

“Because we are in active negotiations with the government, we are not able to comment in depth on the programme until those negotiations have concluded,” said a CSC spokeswoman who said that the same applied to TPP as “they are a supplier to us working on the National Programme”.

4 responses to “IT company’s “tea at the Ritz” offer to GP leaders

  1. Pingback: TPP stops gift offers to GPs | Campaign4Change

  2. Pingback: Can officials stop TPP offering gifts to GPs? | Campaign4Change

  3. maryhawking

    Sounds like they’re pretty desperate – and tea at the Ritz is unlikely to be considered enough to tie up a whole practice for a couple of hours!

    In response to CanUSeeTheLight,
    TPP is a “one record per patient” system where all the participating organisations use the same record held in a central single database, and share records by a series of one or two way sharing permissions at different security levels. Each encounter is given a security level – default is 3 (1 low, 5 high).
    Many of the users will be in non-GP primary care organisations – Community, podiatry, speech and language, etc – in NME – where CSC is the LSP under the NPfIT – and TPP is the only non-GP primary care system on offer.
    FYI GPSoC ends on 31.3.13 – so by the time anyone had made a business case to change (look at prices under GPSoC on the CfH website..) – it seems probable that the practices will be paying for it themselves: there are no plans to continue funding GP IT systems at the moment – or rather, there is no information about whether the problem has even been considered.


  4. I am afraid to say that since my time in the NHS (1989) this sort of practice has always gone on (check what drug reps offer GP’s), and I am sure its not just TPP.

    Onto more important matters namely the claim that TPP holds one third of the countries data and has more than 90,000 users. All sounds rather impressive, but is it?
    Is all this data in a single database or is it in lots of smaller independent System One instances (more likely I think). I am sure they may have 90,000 total registered users (we have just under a third of that number with only a fraction of the implementations).
    The reality is that any enterprise level software solution deployed on the appropriate hardware platform could hold 100% of the data not 33% and support any number of users concurrently not 90,000 in total – how many users but stuff from at any point in time. Such claims are at best inaccurate and at worst misleading especially when read by individuals who do not really understand what is being said. This lack of understanding is why we got into the NPfIT mess in the first place.
    Here is a thought
    Fault tolerant server architecture with under 5 min failover
    Petabyte capable database system
    Concurrent users in the tens of thousand’s
    200+million transactions per second
    Every Mental Health Trust in the country on the same single system
    Total cost less than 4 RiO implementations under BT


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