The National Programme for IT (NPfIT) has signed a corporate licensing agreement with the Oracle Corp., that will provide NHS organisations with access to Oracle products at up to 50% below list price.

Modelled on the NHS-wide corporate enterprise agreement signed with Microsoft in 2000, the new agreement with Oracle is designed to enable the NHS in England to consolidate and standardise on a single, secure, resilient database infrastructure.

An NPfIT spokesperson told E-Health Insider that if Oracle’s products and services are fully taken up in all areas of the NHS they could be applied to the deal could save the NHS £100m.

The agreement with Oracle is the first in a series of such agreements with specific technology providers and IT suppliers, currently being negotiated by the NPfIT, to be concluded and announced.

In a statement the NPfIT said: "Oracle is already a key supplier of technology to the NHS and their involvement has now increased as a result of the recent NHS Care Record contract awards in which Oracle is a sub-contractor to a number of the LSPs."

Oracle is also a key sub-contractor to BT in supplying the database infrastructure that will underpin the national data spine at the heart of the NHS CRS, which will detail key treatments and care with both health and social care.  According to the NPfIT it is estimated that this infrastructure will deal with up to five billion transactions per annum from 2008.

According the National Programme the agreement with Oracle will also mean that many iSoft and IDX products – the two main clinical application providers to have been picked in the five LSP contracts – will be deployed on Oracle’s infrastructure, which will lead to greater continuity between locally based and national information systems. 

More than 70 per cent of NHS Trusts in the UK currently run Oracle systems, with the company particularly strong in financial and back office business systems. Oracle’s database technology also serves as the key element of the National Strategic Tracing Service.  

Oracle’s technology will also underpin the planned Electronic Booking Service, which will support patients in booking hospital appointments upon referral from their local GP. 

Richard Granger, Director General of NHS IT said: "This deal will help ensure that all clinicians benefit from the technology that Oracle provides including access to vital patient information with a far higher degree of resilience and reliability than is currently achieved."

Granger added: "Oracle’s services are vital to the efficient running of the NHS and this agreement will bring about cost savings for the NHS. These savings and the access to services it represents, will enable a greater use of Oracle products within the NHS."

Ian A. Smith, managing director, Oracle UK and senior vice president, Oracle Corporation added: “Oracle UK has extensive experience in providing IT to the healthcare sector, and has worked closely with the NHS to develop this special licensing agreement to support the National Programme for IT. 

Smith concluded: "We regard the Programme as one of the leading examples globally of the use of technology to support patient care across a large health economy and are pleased to work with the NHS to realise its goals."