Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust has become the latest trust to break ranks with the NHS Connecting for Health IT programme and go out to tender for a new clinical information system.

The large acute trust has this month placed an advert in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) for a new electronic patient record (EPR) system.

The advert says that the trust requires an IT solution able to support the following elements of an EPR system "Integrated order communications/results reporting, electronic prescribing with clinical decision support and a theatre system, all of which will integrate with existing trust systems."

The OJEU notice says that the solution "will need to be compatible with the National Programme for IT through Connecting for Health, either through interfaces to existing and future local systems or through additional system modules". No spokesperson from the trust was available for comment.

The contract, which is split into three lots, is for an initial five years, with the option to extend for two more years. Even assuming the contract is awarded by the end of 2006 this would take a contract out to beyond the end of the current duration of NPfIT.

Newcastle’s move will come as blow to Accenture, the Local Service Provider (LSP) for both the North East and East of England under the NHS IT programme. In a phone conference with analysts last month Accenture executives spoke of delays in the delivery of its ‘strategic’ clinical software, from sub-contractor iSoft, and a consequent reduced demand for the solutions from NHS trusts.

Although Accenture has delivered a range of community systems and discrete departmental software to NHS customers in its two regions, it has made heavy weather in delivering the ‘strategic’ clinical solutions called for in its contracts.

To date in the two Accenture clusters, Scarborough and North East Yorkshire NHS Trust is the only acute trust to have received a spine-connected iSoft patient administration system. No acute trust is thought to have yet been provided with more complex clinical systems such as order communications and electronic prescribing.