IBM has announced that the first applications have gone live under its ten-year contract to provide Directorate of Information Systems of the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) in Northern Ireland to with consolidated IT systems.

The ten-year deal was signed with the DHSSPS in January to provide it with a regional, consolidated IT systems as part of an enabling move to electronic care records (ECR).

The contract is based on consolidating 106 distributed multi-vendor IT systems from 18 Trusts and 4 Health and Social Services Boards into two new data centres.

Systems to be consolidated include administrative and clinical areas such as finance, payroll, personnel, radiology, A&E, laboratories, pharmacy, screening, child health, and social services.

Commenting on the contract, Gerry Gault, Deputy Director of the Directorate of Information Systems said: "The first stage of this project is to simply move the existing databases on to the new configuration.”

He added: “Once this is completed, there is the potential to consolidate the data on a functional basis, for example, a single radiology database. This would be the next major milestone on the move towards a single Electronic Care Record (ECR).”

Garry Williams, Director of the Directorate of Information Systems in the DHSSPS, commented: "The IBM solution was selected because it represented value for money and was able to meet both the current and planned requirements of the HPSS. IBM’s mainstream technology also had a clear roadmap which meant that this core infrastructural element could be further enhanced and would remain viable for the next ten years.”

IBM was selected from a number of bidders that included Hewlett Packard and Fujitsu. The value of the contract awarded to IBM was not disclosed

The new system replaces a series of obsolete technologies and will be based on two mirrored sites approximately two miles apart. The configuration consists of four high-end IBM eServer p690 UNIX servers with multiple logical partitions (LPARs). In addition, a Storage Area Network (SAN) Fabric has been created between the two Data Centres. This is based on two IBM Enterprise Storage Server (ESS) 800 and McData Switches and Directors.