Reid Announces £2.7 billion of NHS IT contracts

  • 8 December 2003

Health Secretary John Reid today announced the award of contracts, which he promised would lead to every NHS patient having their own individual electronic NHS Care Record by 2010.

The pledge came on the day the Department of Health announced the award of three crucial contracts, worth a total of £2,715m, to deliver key components of the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) in England.

BT has been awarded the National Application Service Provider (NASP) contract for ‘Data Spine’, to set up and run the national NHS Care Records Service (NCRS), the national component of the NHS electronic record system.

The British firm was awarded the £620m contract ahead of a rival bid led by IBM.  The NHS Care Records Service will provide all 50m NHS patients in England with an individual electronic care record, which will contain details of care and treatment received within either the health service or social care.

The national NCRS to be delivered by BT will connect more than 30,000 GPs and 270 acute, community and mental health NHS trusts in a single, secure national system. By 2005 the ‘Data Spine’ is predicted to be handle 8 billion transactions a year.

BT also beat a strong IBM bid to be awarded the Local Service Provider (LSP) contract to take responsibility for modernising NHS IT systems in the capital.  The London LSP contract is worth £996m over 10-years.  As LSP for London, BT will design, deliver and operate integrated local patient record applications and systems for the whole London care community.

The London LSP contract covers provision of systems to use and access national systems, specifically the national NHS Care Records Service and the national electronic booking service – the contract for which was awarded in October – together with IT support at a local level across the NHS in London.

The preferred main clinical solution that will be offered by BT-led consortium in the capital will be provided by US firm IDX.  The IDX system is already in use in Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust and was recently selected by University College Hospitals London NHS Trust in a £70m deal.

Sir Christopher Bland, BT’s Chairman, said: "We are delighted to have been chosen by the NHS to deliver a key part of the National Programme for IT, one of the biggest and most ambitious healthcare IT projects in the world.” He added: “We look forward to working with the NHS to make this programme a powerful force for improving patient care."

A second 10-year LSP contract, worth £1,099m, was today awarded to Accenture to provide similar IT services and support for NHS IT modernisation for the North East, Yorkshire and Humber region.  In the North East the main clinical solution to be offered by the Accenture-led consortium will be iSOFT.

Three further LSP contracts are due to be announced by the end of 2003 for the remaining English NHS regions: North and West & West Midlands, Southern and Eastern regions.  An NPfIT spokesperson today told E-Health Insider that the contracts would be signed this side of Christmas.

Announcing the NASP contract award Reid said: “The NHS Care Record will completely revolutionise the way that information is accessed and will make available efficient, secure and integrated records to the right people at the right time.”

He added: “Patient records will be available 24-hours a day, seven days a week to ensure that vital information about an individual’s health and care history can be available instantly to health professionals who have authorised access.”

 Reid continued: “The key point is that information will be mobile and follow the patient.”

Under the contract BT is to provide basic NHS Care Records by late 2004.  The national record system is to be fully available by 2010.  By then individual patients will be able to securely access their electronic records online.

NHS IT director-general Richard Granger, said he anticipated patients should start to be able to access their records online long before 2010.  “We anticipate that getting internet access to records will happen far before that… We’re still working out the detail but at the moment we predict Q4, 2004.”    

Details of why BT was chosen ahead of BT for the London LSP and NASP contracts were not provided at the press conference, but industry sources indicate that pricing was a key consideration. If this is the case the battles for the three remaining LSP contracts becomes even more fascinating.    

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