Computer Sciences Corporation has today announced that it has reached agreement with NHS Connecting for Health to sign with GE Healthcare and Healthcare Software Systems to provide picture archiving and communications systems and radiology information systems to the North West and West Midlands region of the NHS.

Through NHS National Programme for IT prime contractor Fujitsu, GE and Healthcare Software Systems (HSS), are already the picture archiving and communications systems (PACS) and radiology information systems (RIS) suppliers to the NHS in the South of England, where 17 trusts have so far received systems.

According to CfH the first site is planned to go live in the NWWM cluster, with a GE PACS from Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) in July 2006.  Over the next 12 months it says "a further 20 trusts are scheduled to go live".

The value of the new CSC PACS deal was not disclosed, but in November 2004 Fujitsu awarded GE a £110m contract to install PACS in 42 hospital trusts across the South.

In a Commons statement last month health minister, Liam Byrne, said that any additional costs of switching to GE and HSS would be borne by CSC as the prime contractor and not Connecting for Health (CfH). "NHS Connecting for Health has not incurred, and will not in future incur, any additional financial costs as a result of this change of provider." He did not clarify whether trusts would have to pay more.

CSC originally awarded a £33m contract for PACS in the NWWM to Imperial College spin-out ComMedica, together with RIS partner Kodak, in December 2004. Two and a half years later CSC has yet to successfully deploy a single PACS system.

The extent of the delays mean that it will be almost impossible for CSC to achieve the Department of Health’s targets of having PACS fully across England by March 2007. The PACS programme under Accenture and Agfa in the Eastern and North East regions is also badly behind schedule.

However, the long awaited and widely anticipated contract award to GE Healthcare and Healthcare Software Systems (HSS)  will, however, hopefully break the logjam that has existed in the NWWM region since CSC and CfH decided in February to cease work on deploying the ComMedica solution and begin negotiations with GE.

In February ComMedica closed its medical imaging business after NHS Connecting for Health and CSC decided to suspend deployment of the ComMedica/Kodak PACS/RIS reference solution for the NWWM.

ComMedica said of the decision to suspend: "As a result, ComMedica’s role in this important project was effectively terminated."

Under the new arrangements Kodak will no longer provide the RIS for the NWWM but remains a sub-contractor to CSC. A statement from CSC said: "Kodak continues in its integral role of supplying computed radiography (CR) systems, laser imagers and QA workstations for the project. Additionally, Kodak will now supply Medical Imaging Managers, which will capture non DICOM images and send these to PACS."

“We are delighted that GE and HSS have joined Kodak in the CSC Alliance adding their proven technologies to our solution,” said CSC’s Paul Hart, vice president and chief operating officer of the Alliance. He added that "all parties" were committed to making "significant progress" on deployments in NWWM.