BT, the local service provider for London under the NHS IT investment programme, has confirmed that it has completed the switch from GE Healthcare to Cerner as its main clinical software sub-contractor.

The company said in its its half year results today: "BT continues to make good progress on its NHS National Programme for Information Technology contracts."  The London LSP added, "BT has delivered capability to 40%  of trusts."

A BT spokesperson confirmed to E-Health Insider  that it has now signed the deal with US healthcare software firm Cerner to take over the work from GE Healthcare.

GE took on the contract after acquiring IDX Systems Corporation in January. BT said in July that it planned to switch to Cerner.

The deal forms a key element of BT’s efforts to formulate a workable ‘de-risked’ strategy to upgrade NHS IT systems in the capital, a project running approximately two years late. By switching to Cerner BT has effectively hit the re-set button over a year after Fujitsu made the same switch from IDX to Cerner in the South of England.

Delivery delays experienced by NHS trusts in the South awaiting systems from Fujitsu, however, indcate that BT’s switch to the Cerner Millennium product is not risk free.

BT was awarded a £996m ten-year contract to upgrade the IT systems of the NHS in London in December 2003. In the three years since BT has implemented just one patient administration system into an acute trust, at Queen Mary’s Sidcup. PAS meant to be just the first layer of the integrated Care Records Service each LSP is meant to deliver.

The LSP has also installed a number of other administrative and clinical systems including Picture Archiving and Communications have been installed.

In June BT said it would install PAS systems in three more London acute trusts by the end of December, sources close to the London programme indicate this target is extremely unlikely to be met.

BT has in the past month been presenting its plans to London NHS trusts for a ‘de-risked’ plan B. Rather than offer one fully integrated clinical software system, running in hospitals, clinics and GP surgeries, the company will now instead offer a series of different software packages which it will then seek to integrate.

The line-up is understood to be Cerner’s Millennium solution for the acute hospital sector, with Rio for the community services and INPS (formerly InPractice Systems) for primary care. BT will then develop an integration layer.

The move means that IDX has now been replaced as the main clinical software supplier in both London and the South of England. Fujitsu has since installed Cerner software at three NHS trusts.