BT Health managing director, Patrick O’Connell,  has told E-Health Insider that the pressure is mounting to deliver new systems to acute trusts in London if the company is to solidify its position as a local service provider to the NHS in the capital under the National Programme for IT.

In an exclusive interview published in full in Comment and Analysis today O’Connell said that the pressure was on from within BT and externally to deliver in London. He stated bluntly: "We need to get some acutes under our belt”. To date BT has delivered a new core hospital system to just one trust: Queen Mary’s Sidcup, where it will this summer substitute the IDX system it installed in 2006 with a replacement from Cerner.

O’Connell says that after repeated delays – in part caused by the switch from GE [previously IDX] to Cerner – BT now plans to deliver Cerner Millennium to three acute NHS trusts in London by Christmas 2007, namely: Barnet and Chase Farm, Queen Mary’s Sidcup and Barts and The London. After these initial sites he says the pace of delivery in future years will partly depend on the "appetite of the authority".

The BT Health boss – who came to company with the reputation as a project turnaround specialist – explains that a key step in stabilising the position in London has been to ‘de-risk’ the solution provided by moving to a "best of breed" suite of software – Cerner for acute, CSE Servelec for mental health and community and INPS for primary care – linked together through "interoperability".

This best of breed interoperability approach he says offers the greatest prospect for success, ensuring that "all your eggs aren’t in one basket" while keeping competition and providing a route for innovation and future developments. In addition, he says that interoperability offers the best way to connect with existing legacy systems.

The man responsible for delivery of three of the key contracts awarded by NPfIT – London, the N3 network and the Spine – also sets out why BT eventually decided it was essential to de-couple the development of Cerner Millennium for London from that being developed in the South. “London is a very different environment to the South,” he tells EHI.

Read the full interview here