GP IT Practice Agreement

As part of NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group’s Informatics programme, Castlerigg provided project management services to a General Practice Information Technology Agreement Project.

In January 2016, Castlerigg Consulting were commissioned to deliver a project ensuring that all GP practices within the Cumbria CCG area signed an agreement committing the CCG and the practices to a set of principles which define the support that a GP practice can expect to receive from the CCG commissioned supplier and the boundaries within which the practices are confined in IT terms; what they can do, cannot do and both parties’ responsibilities.

It was felt that this exercise would benefit from project controls to manage risk of non-delivery, which would potentially incur penalties for the CCG and the complexity of ensuring that the relationship with each practice was effectively managed to achieve an agreement with each of these stakeholders in the timeframe set nationally.   At the time the project was initiated a short extension had been granted to Cumbria CCG to complete the exercise following internal delays beyond their control.

NHS Cumbria CCG has a responsibility, devolved from NHS England, for the delivery of General Practice Information Technology (GP IT) services which enables local clinical leaders to lead local service redesign and reflect any unique regional considerations in the delivery of IT Services. NHS Cumbria CCG, through the clinical leadership of the Chief Clinical Information Officer, carries responsibility for all 78 GP Practices across Cumbria.

The agreements contain an explanation of the breakdown of the rights and responsibilities of each practice and the CCG.  It is an essential document which not only ensures that the practice understands what GP IT services to expect and the related responsibilities of both parties, but also ensures that the practices’ role in supporting the CCG’s obligations under GPSoC and other national contracts is bound by a contractual agreement between both parties.

The project was conducted in a four-stage process.

Stage one – Preparation and stakeholder engagement

  • Identified key stakeholders
  • Developed communication plan
  • Developed communications messages and materials
  • Prepared tailored practice agreements

Stage two – Project Initiation - orchestrated the release of the agreements to each practice

Stage three – Processing responses - Identified practices requiring additional engagement

Stage four – Prepared submissions – Submitted returned responses to NHS England

The Project was completed and delivered within the time constraints, within the specified budget, within all specified tolerances and without exception or any other project intervention. The successful completion of the Project has ensured that the centrally provisioned GPSoC funding will remain intact for the forthcoming 12 months.

At project closure, a number of issues, lessons and recommendations were raised by the Project Team which were provided to the Project Executive for consideration or appropriate action.

Here's how…


Project Management

A structured approach to the project was undertaken, following the principles of PRINCE2 project management.  A detailed project plan was developed to map out the timeline against all of the products the GPIT CCG Practice agreement Project was to deliver.  The project was split into four short stages. Each stage had a clear start and end point which allowed the project to effectively track progress throughout the project lifecycle. The most vital part of the GP IT Agreement Project was communications.  The communication plan detailed the minutiae of the communications assessed to be required to achieve the intended outcomes and timescale.