US health systems specialists, Cerner Corporation, have been named as the preferred supplier to replace the ageing clinical IT system at Wirral Hospital NHS Trust.

The contract win was widely predicted for Cerner at the trust which credited with much pioneering work on the use of IT in acute NHS care.

The independent procurement outside Connecting for Health’s (CfH) National Programme for IT was approved by the Department of Health and the local strategic health authority and announced last January.

Permission was granted because the clinical solution to be delivered by local service provider, CSC, would not be able to deliver all the advanced functionality already in use at Wirral before the system replacement deadline of December 2007.

Trust chief executive, Frank Burns, explained at the time: "Wirral Hospital fully supports the national programme and has no concerns about the ultimate functionality of the products procured. It is simply a problem of timing. For clinical safety reasons, we must replace our functionality-rich, 15-year-old system within the next two and a half years, and the national programme solution will not be ready in time."

Since the initial tender went out, Cerner, which had no contract wins in the initial procurements for England, has been brought in as a replacement for IDX in the South.

Wirral said in its announcement of the contract: “In view of recent developments in the national programme, the trust has raised with the national Connecting for Health team the possibility of using national contracts to deliver the new system and this is currently under consideration.”

The Trust said it hoped that the contract with Cerner would be finalised to allow work to start in a matter of weeks.