Connecting for Health has awarded the eagerly anticipated Additional Supply Capability and Capacity (ASCC) framework contracts for clinical information systems.

Some 61 contracts have been signed with a wide range of suppliers for a series of clinical categories ranging from patient administration systems, to dental systems. Each clinical category of ‘lot two’ of ASCC is divided into national and SME (small and medium enterprise) contracts.

The four year ASCC framework contracts are said to provide NHS organisations and other NHS-funded establishments such as Independent Treatment Centres with a faster and easier route to procure IT systems and services from suppliers who have demonstrated experience in the health sector.

Gordon Hextall, CfH director of informatics said: "The award of the framework contracts for ASCC Lot 2 sees the successful completion of a significant procurement which will help to support the delivery not only of the National Programme for IT but also to ensure that the NHS has access to a range of suitable IT supply routes to respond flexibly to new and future business needs as they arise."

Jeremy Nettle, chair of the Intellect Healthcare Council welcomed the announcement and said: "This represents a great opportunity for our members to supply additional clinical solutions to meet the needs of the 21st century and deliver better and more effective healthcare to patients.’

ASCC can be used to support both National Programme for IT (NPfIT) related work and wider IT related projects.

It remains unclear, though, whether Connecting for Health (CfH) funding will be committed to support any procurement using ASCC. Previously CfH has announced that the procurement would be worth £100m but has yet to provide details of how much of this will be committed to lot two.

In addition to familiar NPfIT names such as BT, CSC and Fujitsu, there are some interesting new names in the PAS SME category, including Siemens, Agfa, Portugal’s Alert, and the highly regarded US firm Epic Systems.

In the PAS SME category suppliers awarded contracts include: Alert, Cambio, Capula, Epic, Intersystems, iSoft and System C.

One company to do notably well was System C which won framework contracts covering 16 areas including PAS, A&E and maternity. CEO, Dr Ian Denley, said “The NHS has been in need of a dedicated healthcare framework catalogue for many years, so this is a very exciting initiative from NHS Connecting for Health.

In other categories there are some interesting names missing. Ascribe, for instance, does not appear in e-prescribing category. The company pointed out, however, that it was a sub-contractor to several of the firms named on the ‘National’ list.

Melissa Frewin, health programme manager at Intellect, said: ‘Intellect is pleased to see the Lot 2 announcement, which should open-up access to the clinical systems market and enable suppliers to support the delivery of NPfIT and the wider business requirements within the NHS."

She added: "To ensure that ASCC delivers real benefits to the health service Intellect would like to see additional clarity around how the framework will be promoted to potential customers, how they are likely to use it in practice (including any guidance that may have been provided) and how it relates to Foundation Trust status."

The full list of the 61 contracts can found here.