Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust has won the BT-sponsored Health Service Journal Award for “Improving Care with e-Technology” with a project that succeeded in making e-commerce work and contributed benefits worth £425,000 in its first year.

The trust says that the project, E-Commerce in Action, is allowing its procurement service to link and streamline all its functions forming a truly seamless and paperless supply chain. As a result, staff time is freed to focus further on contracting and reducing the £175m non-pay costs of the trust.

Bespoke software developed in the trust has been combined with commercial solutions, leading to demand management through a seamless string of digital data capture systems. This includes the scanning of the manufacturers’ bar codes on products and the processing of all data within the trust’s ERP system.

Attempts to automate and streamline hospital supply chains have a long history and have suffered from underinvestment in IT and the low status and priority accorded to most procurement departments. Leeds hopes that its project will inspire others.

Director of facilities, Keith Lilley, told E-Health Insider: “The NHS has adopted this technology but uptake has been slow. I hope that the service can realise the benefits that Leeds and the other early implementers have delivered for the NHS.

“E-commerce represents a significant opportunity for the NHS and its suppliers to transform the healthcare supply chain for the benefit of our patients. I’m confident that colleagues within the service will continue to grow the initiative and hope that the national organisation will provide practical support for this to happen."

The judges gave the project top marks because of its evidence of benefit, its scaleability and transferability and because it was “beautifully implemented”.

Runner up in the same category was Harmoni Ltd for its Exocet project which set out to create efficient communication links between NHS Direct (West London), Harmoni and GP co-operatives. The system enables information gathered by NHS Direct to be entered automatically onto GPs’ patient record systems.

The highly-commended project in the category was Isabel, an online clinical decision support tool covering the whole spectrum of paediatric medicine. Isabel was developed by Dr Joseph Britto at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, London. It has 12000 registered users and work has started on an adult version. The judges praised it for being quick and accurate and for integrating with electronic records.