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LPC revolt forced PSNC to rethink PharmOutcomes

Practice PSNC was forced to rethink the funding of its PharmOutcomes database because of a revolt by some contractors who refused to pay for the "unproven software", C+D has learned.

PSNC was forced to rethink the funding of its PharmOutcomes database because of a revolt by some contractors who refused to pay for the "unproven software", C+D has learned. 

PSNC's decision, announced in November last year, to scrap the LPC levy from April 2013 followed contractors refusing to fund the database, the negotiator confirmed.    

Less than 10 per cent of LPCs said they did not want to pay the levy which ranges from £42 to £104 a year, depending on how many contractors in the LPC use it for 2012-13, PSNC told C+D. It was this, together with a reduced need for the database's NMS module, that triggered PSNC's review of its "approach to funding the platform and the support offered by it", PSNC head of NHS services Alastair Buxton said.

The new system will require payment only by those LPCs, commissioners and contractors who wish to use it.

"There was almost a revolt on both committees that we should not spend more money on an unproven software where use was not widespread" Andrew McCoig, Croydon LPC and Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth LPC

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Two LPC secretaries told C+D that contractors voted against paying a levy to use the database until April this year, because it "hadn't achieved the things contractors were hoping for". 

All LPCs paid a levy to use the IT platform, formerly known as Pharmabase, when it launched in September 2011. But contractors in Croydon LPC and Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth LPC voted "overwhelmingly" to suspend their levy last year as they were not using the database, said both LPCs' secretary Andrew McCoig.  

"There was almost a revolt on both committees that we should not spend more money on an unproven software where use was not widespread among contractors," he told C+D.

"[PharmOutcomes] was originally based on the idea that this would be the platform by which they could collect new medicines service data... all very good objectives and aims; and both our LPCs supported that," he said.

"They support the vision; it's just that in the delivery, the 18 months that transpired between the launch and when we made the decision to suspend funding it hadn't achieved the things contractors were hoping for," he added.

Doncaster LPC also voted against paying the levy for last year, because they didn't feel the database was offering value for money, said secretary Nick Hunter.

PharmOutcomes "completely lacked vision" and was blighted by "poor communication around what it was about and where it was going", he said. "I think it needs to get much slicker and much more flexible."

But Bury and Rochdale LPC and Oldham, Tameside and Glossop LPC chief officer Ian Short said a PSNC masterclass had convinced him that the revised version was likely to prove "more usable" than the existing format. "It's much more flexible and adaptable to meet local needs," he added.

Mr McCoig said his LPCs would "revist the whole issue" if PSNC's changes warranted it. "Perhaps some contractors might decide that it's in their interest to go and support it," he said.

PSNC had reduced the NMS module in the updated database, Mr Buxton explained, because it expected PMR supplier to provide that functionality if the service was recommissioned from April.

The revised database would include a national template for common enhanced services and allow real-time performance management of services, according to PSNC.


Do you think PharmOutcomes is worth the levy?

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