The Department of Health has sent letters to trust chief executives in the South of England asking them to confirm whether they intend to use the Additional Supply Capability and Capacity framework to procure acute systems.
EHealth Insider reported last month that Treasury approval has been given for the procurement, which will focus on delivering ‘Clinical 5’ functionality to trusts that have been waiting for new administration and clinical systems.
A spokesperson for the DH, said: "Following ministerial approval to proceed with the remaining ASCC South Programme, a letter was sent to the chief executive of each trust to reconfirm their demand for the acute solutions.
“In the letter, the trusts were asked to confirm their intent for taking on the acute solutions that would be procured under ASCC South.”
The exercise is similar to that undertaken by the DH to gauge how many trusts still want to take iSoft’s electronic patient record, Lorenzo, from the local service provider for the North, Midlands and East of England, CSC.
This exercise was meant to help to determine the scope of a new contract with the LSP. However, it appears to have been unsuccessful, with trusts saying they remained interested in the system, while making other arrangements.
The DH says that at this stage of the ASCC procurement, “the trusts have not been asked to fully commit to taking the solutions that they have selected.”
However, it says that this will be required at a later stage “once evaluation is complete and before service agreements are signed."
The DH announced in 2009 that Southern trusts not covered by a contract with BT to maintain and extend the use of Cerner Millennium would be offered a choice of centrally funded systems, using the ASCC framework.
Three procurements were started for community and child health, acute and integration, and ambulance systems. But they were put on hold for the duration of the general election.
The child and community health procurement restarted at the end of last year. The other procurements are now ready to begin.
The DH spokesperson told EHI that the decision to issue a letter to acute trusts had been informed by the community and child health procurement, which had shown “the need for a clear understanding of a firm and realistic demand prior to launching the procurement.”
The road to getting systems into hospitals is likely to be a long one. The DH has said that final Treasury approval will be needed when contracts are ready to be signed; which is unlikely to be before the end of the year.
© 2011 EHealth Media.