Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which had gone outside the NHS National Programme for IT to procure for a new patient administration system, has come back into the fold.

The trust has signed a deal with Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) to implement iSoft’s iPM in just six months, in a deal underwitten by NHS Connecting for Health.

Having abandoned its procurement the trust is now dependant on CSC successfully installing iPM more rapidly than it has previously managed. Should this not be achieved NHS Connecting for Health has pledged to meet the extra cost to the trust of paying for continued support of its existing Siemens IRC system.

E-Health Insider has learned that the Bradford trust board decided to stop its procurement and sign up for the iSoft PAS system from CSC the day before it was announced to the NHS and financial markets that CSC would replace Accenture as local service provider (LSP) in the North-east and East of England by January 2007. The trust is in the North-east cluster of the NHS IT programme.

In July Bradford placed an advert in the Official Journal of the European Union for a new PAS system, which it said had to be delivered by March 2007, with implementation work starting by 1 October.

However, On 27 September – in the same week that the trust had been due to award the PAS contract after exhaustive evaluation and short-listing – the trust board suddenly agreed to take the iSoft iPM system after all, based on CSC’s guarantee it could deliver by next March. The agreement was reached while Accenture was still technically LSP for the cluster.

In a statement trust chief executive, Miles Scott, said: “In collaboration with Connecting for Health, which runs NPfIT, and the North-east cluster, the board of directors has signed off a business case to work with the CSC Alliance.”

The trust confirmed to EHI that it has received additional financial commitments from NHS CfH to take the CSC system. A spokesperson said: “The national programme has recognized the additional complexity and implementation effort required for CSCA to deliver a new PAS solution by the end of March. The cluster has made available a range of goods and services to BTHFT to enable the implementation to proceed in a timely manner.”

They confirmed that this financial commitment included the costs of any extension to the existing Siemens PAS. “Any cost associated with the IRC PAS support contract extension for BTHFT will be met by the national programme.”

Bradford would be CSC’s first acute PAS implementation in the North-east cluster, where it is due to complete taking over as LSP from Accenture by January. As such, the implementation is a high priority for both CfH and CSC, both needing to show that the replacement of Accenture is not leading to further delays in the NHS IT programme. As a Foundation trust Bradford is under no obligation to take CfH systems.

A trust spokesperson indicated to EHI that the procurement had been mainly a paper exercise, a hoop it had been told to go through. “We had to mitigate risk by going out to tender as Accenture weren’t in a position to confirm they could take any more work on.”

The spokesperson added: “We have a system that, come the end of March, is unsupported. This is about risk mitigation.”

Although CSC has now implemented iSoft iPM in a number of acute trusts in the North West and West Midlands, the lead time for these projects has typically been a year or more, making a March go-live date exceptionally challenging. The challenge is likely to be compounded by CSC having to build up its presence and implementation resources in the cluster.

Asked whether Bradford was confident that CSC could successfully deliver iPM by March 2007 – by when the trust’s existing system falls out of contract – the spokesperson said: “I don’t believe the trust board would have taken the decision if they weren’t confident.”

The spokesperson added, “CFH provided information presented to the Board of Directors to support the deployment deadline with their new LSP arrangements and on that basis it was an obvious decision to stay within the programme.”

Tendering for a major trust PAS procurement is an exercise that can cost suppliers tens of thousands of pounds and requires a significant investment of time and resource from the tendering organisation.

Two of the suppliers who were understood to have been short-listed by Bradford were Siemens and SystemC, both of whom declined to comment on whether they had believed themselves to be participating in a risk mitigation exercise.

The trust said that two suppliers identified “could have delivered within our timescales at an affordable price”.

CfH has since told EHI it "was pleased the trust has confirmed its wish to take a solution provided by the National Programme."  The agency said that CSC will provdie iSoft iPM PAS and iCM applications, plus the necessary integration engine to link to the trust’s existing departmental systems and the management Information, allowing the trust to produce the necessary operational and statutory reports.

CfH added that it recognsied that go live by 31 March, 2007, was a challenging target. "We recognise this will be a challenging timescale for both CSC and the Trust, and we therefore agreed that it was prudent to arrange for the extension to the current PAS contract."

The additional costs of any required extension "will be covered by the National Programme, such costs being re-covered by delay deductions and other terms incorporated within the contractual arrangements.

CfH also said that may be an increased ‘implementation effort’ required for delivery of the CSC solution by the early adopter sites in the North East and Eastern clusters. "In recognition of these additional costs, the National Programme will make available resources to support implementation."

The agency concluded: "The National Programme, and the arrangements incorporated in the novation of services between Accenture and CSC, clearly demonstrate that suitable PAS and clinical applications can be made available to all trusts without the requirement to undertake further expensive procurements.