The roll-out programme for PACS in the North West and West Midlands of England by CSC looks in danger of stalling.

Despite assurances from NHS Connecting for Health (CfH), as recently as two weeks ago, that initial implementations will begin before the end of December 2005, E-Health Insider has confirmed that none of the four trusts lined up to be early adopters will go live this year.

As first reported two weeks ago Royal Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Trust has rejected CSC’s reference PACS system, which was to have been provided by ComMedica and integrated to the trust’s existing HSS Radiology Information System.

The trust rejected the CSC PACS after an abortive three month implementation effort, estimated to have cost the trust more than £300,000 in hardware alone, not counting staff time and costs.

To have a new PACS operational in time for the opening of its new £75 million Broadgreen University Hospital site in mid-March the trust believes that it must sign a contract with a new supplier by the end of this week at the latest.

One source from the trust, who asked not to be named, told EHI: "I don’t enjoy Connecting for Health saying there is nothing wrong and trying to keep us quiet. We have told CfH we want a proven solution."

In addition to the problems at Liverpool, EHI has since confirmed that none of the other three early adopters of the system in Mid Cheshire, Sutton Coldfield and Chester – will now be going live by year end with CSC’s reference PACS.

Well-placed clinical and industry sources in the region have said that the future progress of the CSC PACS project hinges on a mid-December software release from ComMedica, that must resolve problems with its system.

In a statement to EHI, Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Trust said that it was now working towards going live in January 2006 with the initial implementation of PACS.

David Stokes, director for medical imaging at the trust, said: “While this date has changed, it was always negotiable given the scale and complexity of the PACS project.”

A spokesperson for Countess of Chester NHS Trust told EHI: "We were due to be one of the first wave trusts to get PACS, but the go live date is under review at the moment and has not been finalised."

A spokesperson for Good Hope Hospital NHS Trust, Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham, meanwhile told EHI that the trust would no longer be going live with a PACS from CSC by year end and did not yet have a new implementation date.

EHI has also learned that Royal Liverpool is not the first trust to decline to take CSC’s reference PACS. Coventry and Warwick University Hospitals NHS Trust has separately negotiated to take a GE PACS, delivered by Southern cluster LSP Fujitsu, for its new hospital.

Responding to a series of questions from EHI, CfH said in a statement: "Connecting for Health is in regular, ongoing discussion with its service provider, with a view to optimising the delivery of PACS services to the North West Cluster. Current plans for the North West Cluster show the first PACS solutions going live in 2005."

Asked whether the ComMedica PACS offered by CSC had passed the proof of solution and ‘sandpit’ integration testing CfH said: "A rigorous procurement process involving Cluster representation was followed when CSC chose to sub-contract the supply of PACS and RIS to ComMedica and Kodak respectively. The contract that was signed with CSC was signed on the basis of CSC being able to meet all of the requirements and presenting an acceptable and realistic plan."

The statement added that spine integration testing "was not required to be carried out prior to contract award" as the initial PACS deployments in the cluster are not integrated to the spine.