Tag Archives: TPP SystmOne

TPP stops gift offers to GPs

By Tony Collins

IT supplier TPP has stopped offering gifts to GPs while it has talks with NHS Connecting for Health and CSC.

TPP has offered tea at The Ritz, theatre tickets, Marks and Spencer vouchers and chocolates to GPs in return for their hosting demonstrations of its SystmOne  product.

Parts of the NHS have clearly-defined rules on the acceptance of gifts or hospitality, though the rules do not apply to GPs. 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 …”

On 30 January 2012 Campaign4Change reported that TPP has offered gifts to 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 has said in its marketing literature that its systems hold a third of the country’s patient records and have about 100,000 users.

In reply to our questions about TPP’s offers to GPs, the Department of Health said in January that TPP had ceased offering the incentives after a DH intervention.

“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.”

Ten days later Pulse reported that TPP was still offering incentives to GPs. Pulse quoted TPP as saying that it had “momentarily stopped offering the incentives over Christmas but will be resuming during February”.

TPP told Pulse: ‘The incentives were offered only to GPs and practice managers and were completely optional … ‘Our ‘Tea at the Ritz’ offer actually costs considerably less than the cost of catering for such a practice meeting. We at TPP appreciate that GPs and their staff are extremely busy and so any thank-you gifts we offer staff are simply that, a thank-you for an hour or two of their time.’

Campaign4Change then questioned whether the DH is powerless to stop TPP offering gifts.

We said that a level playing field for suppliers would mean that all suppliers offered tea at the Ritz or Marks and Spencer vouchers in return for a chance to demo their systems to GPs. Alternatively suppliers could agree that none offers gifts.

Now Pulse has reported that TPP has stopped offering gifts to GP, at least while it has talks with CSC and  NHS  Connecting for Health. TPP is quoted in Pulse as saying:

Obviously TPP would not have begun offering incentives as a thank-you for a GP’s time, if we were not highly confident that we are not doing anything wrong legally or ethically. That remains our position.

However following recent communication with CSC and Connecting for Health we have postponed the sending of marketing material that offers incentives for SystmOne demonstrations, until all parties have agreed a way forward.

There may have been miscommunications in the past about what incentives were offered, when and to whom, but TPP has always been upfront about any promotional incentives that are offered. All parties are now keen to ensure we can agree on ways to advertise and promote our products whilst maintaining our high ethical standards.’

‘In the meantime we will continue to consult with GPs, their staff and any NHS guidelines, in order to gain feedback about the best ways to demonstrate SystmOne to them.

Comment:

Whether or not the talks between TPP, CSC and the Department of Health might have been prompted, in part, by recent publicity over TPP’s offering of gifts, we’re pleased the talks are taking place.

If all IT suppliers to the NHS offered gifts to GPs then some doctors could end up seeing IT demos based in part on the attractiveness of the gifts on offer.

Links:

IT company’s “tea at the Ritz” offer to GPs.

Can officials stop TPP offering gifts to GPs?

Is TPP defying assurance on gifts to GPs? – Pulse

Software firm pulls tea at the Ritz incentives for GPs – Pulse

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Are officials pressing GPs to switch IT supplier to SystmOne?

By Tony Collins

There’s concern in the NHS that Primary Care Trusts, which are due to be abolished next year, are putting GP practices under pressure to switch their IT systems to TPP SystmOne, a patient record system that is supplied by CSC under the National Programme for IT.

The conversions are being subsidised by taxpayers under unpublished NPfIT local service provider contracts. The concern of at least one aspiring Clinical Commissioning Group – which is one of the CCGs being formed under Andrew Lansley’s health reforms –  is that GP system conversions to TPP SystemOne under local service provider NPfIT contracts could leave CCGs a legacy of financial commitments that are as yet unknown.

One CCG contacted Campaign4Change to express concern that it may have uncertain financial commitments when it begins to take on SystmOne commitments next year. On 1 April 2013 PCTs and strategic health authorities are due to be abolished and their responsibilities passed to authorised CCGs.

Aspiring CCGs are now taking a close interest in PCT financial commitments because the Groups are due to inherit any of their local PCT deficits incurred from 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2013.

At present, GP practices receive PCT funding whether they take replacement SystmOne patient record technology from CSC  under the NPfIT or acquire new IT under a scheme known as GP Systems of Choice.

But the Group’s spokeswoman said that PCTs are putting pressure on GP practices to replace their systems with SystmOne. She said it’s because it can cost PCTs less – or nothing – for a GP switch to SystmOne under NPfIT-funded local service provider contracts. In comparison PCTs may have to pay costs such as hardware maintenance when GPs acquire systems under GPSoC.

Incentives for GPs to switch IT supplier

Our inquiries show that at least one PCT has received what it called “incentives” from its strategic health authority for GP practices to change computer systems, according to the PCT’s response to an FOI inquiry. The FOI response said: “The PCT can confirm that the incentives passed to [GP] practices to change computer systems as follows”.

It went on to say that its strategic health authority gave the PCT a £10,000 implementation fee [for each GP practice that changed its systems]. The PCT passed £3,000 of the £10,000 to the GP practice to part fund its implementation costs.

The PCT’s preferred GP system supplier was SystmOne, as supplied by CSC.

What happens when CSC’s NPfIT contract expires in 2015?

At that time Clinical Commissioning Groups may have to pay whatever costs are levied because GP practices with SystmOne could be reluctant to switch systems again, said the CCG spokesperson.

The Department of Health’s Informatics Directorate, which has subsumed NHS Connecting for Health, has confirmed that the prices it pays CSC for TPP installations are confidential.

Said a DH spokesperson “While prices within the LSP [Local Service Provider] contracts are commercially confidential we are in partnership with Intellect, the Technology Trade Association, to develop an open and transparent approach to costs and quality, as part of working to create a vibrant marketplace.”

A spokesperson for CSC said  “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.”

The spokesperson said the comments applied to TPP as it is “a supplier to us working on the National Programme”.

Department of Health response

When asked if GP practices are taking on non-transparent NPfIT commitments for TPP systems, the DH spokesperson said “If a GP practice chooses to take a system under an LSP contract they are made fully aware of the product they are taking and the length of the contract.

“We are committed to ensuring transparent and trusting working relationships between suppliers and their NHS customers.”

Asked whether GP practices that choose GPSoC systems cost the PCT more than TPP acquired through the LSP contracts, the DH spokesperson said “ It is up to the GP practice as to whether they choose a system through GPSoC or through the LSP contracts.

“The GPSoC PCT/ Practice agreement provides a mechanism for GPs to raise and resolve any concerns they may have.”

Comment

Centrally-funded incentives to PCTs to encourage GPs to switch to SystmOne as supplied by CSC under the NPfIT keep alive one of the original objectives of the national programme, which was to have health IT dominated by a few suppliers that would be under firm central control.

But that strategy creates an imbalance in the health IT market, inhibits open competition and leaves the NHS with unquantifiable future costs given that SystmOne is being supplied under NPfIT contracts that are secret.

Favouring central control, Labour created the NPfIT. In contrast the coalition favours decentralisation so it makes sense for GPs to have a genuine choice of suppliers, with the funding PCTs remaining neutral on the decision.

TPP SystmOne is good enough to compete freely in the open market. It does not need a leg up from the PCT or the Department of Health – just for the sake of keeping a part of the original NPfIT alive.