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NHS England drops planned procurement framework for primary care digital tech


Mark Say Managing Editor

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NHS England has discarded its plans for a procurement framework, valued at up to £297 million, for digital technology in primary care.

It has confirmed that it is now looking at an alternative approach, emphasising the potential for integrated care boards ICBs to enable GP practices to use funding through the Primary Care Access Recovery Plan for procuring the technology.

An NHS England spokesperson said: “Thanks to the NHS plan for recovering access to primary care, more GP surgeries have the latest tech to make access easier for patients.

“Although a framework is not now how we are taking this work forward, practices can still secure the higher quality digital solutions they need with the help of ICBs, using the additional investment provided by the plan.”

Further options for suppliers of the relevant products are expected in the future.

8am rush

The plan for Digital Pathways was announced last year, heralded as part of the effort to tackle the ‘8am rush’ for GP appointments in England. But it was put on hold in February of this year following a claim against the process, the details of which were not stated.

In April NHS England published guidance stating that the timeline for the framework was uncertain and urging the use of alternative buying approaches, along with emphasising the scope for ICBs to take advantage of available funding for the provision of digital tools.

The scope of planned framework had covered a number of capabilities including: care navigation for patients; online consultations and patient requests; reporting of the requests; cross-organisational appointment booking; prescription ordering; video consultations; communication management; and enabling patients to view content from their electronic patient records.

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