Wednesday’s Additional Supply Capability and Capacity (ASCC) framework contract announcement for clinical information systems saw almost 50 new suppliers awarded contracts by Connecting for Health in support of the National Programme for IT.

The new catalogue should enable the English NHS to exercise more choice over which systems they deploy into their trusts and when they do it, however how they go about doing this remains unclear.

The 50-plus suppliers chosen range from relatively unfamiliar small firms to large international corporations, including all the suppliers and LSPs in NPfIT.

For the smaller firms, they hope ASCC will open new doors for their work within the English NHS. E-Health Insider spoke to a number of the winning suppliers to see what they hope to gain from being listed in the lot 2 catalogue.

New market entrants

Greek Healthcare IT specialist ATKOSoft will open a new UK office to cater for the new business. Yiannis Samiotakis, president & managing director of ATKOSoft S.A., said: “We have been working with hospitals in Europe for many years and we are excited at the opportunity to share our experience and replicate the successes we have enjoyed delivering health care solutions specifically designed for the European Market

Swansea University’s School of Medicine is also looking forward to the opportunities involvement could bring them. Swansea is the only medical school listed as a lot 2 supplier.

Professor John Williams, professor of health services research at Swansea, said: “This is a remarkable achievement. The assessment process was very rigorous. Success speaks volumes of the quality of our information systems and services, which are truly best of breed.

“As the only medical school represented in the list of preferred suppliers, we are pleased to be included on the ASCC Lot 2 Framework Contract. It is essential that clinical systems can meet the information needs of professionals and patients, support developments in the delivery of high quality services, and enable clinical research.”

Interest focuses on PAS

One category being looked at carefully by many NHS trusts is patient administration systems. New providers in this category hope they can earn business from trusts tired of waiting for NPfIT offerings.

Stalis’s sales and marketing director, John Wiltshire, said: “We look forward to the opening up of the NHS market for our PAS and our other healthcare products and services.”

Sean Grimes, head of the healthcare sector at Agilisys, another listed PAS supplier, added: “We believe the framework provides a fantastic opportunity particularly for the SMEs who can make an important and extremely valuable contribution to the provision of healthcare services at a national level.

“Agilisys has recently delivered highly innovative technology platforms to one of the UK’s largest private healthcare groups, BMI Hospitals, with the roll out of a PAS across 49 hospitals. We have proven delivery capability that we hope to bring to bear at the national level, and the framework offers us and other SMEs the opportunity to do so.”

Stage set for theatres suppliers

Trisoft has been appointed in the theatres category with their TheatreMan product. Managing director, Philip Moakes, said: “We are very pleased that the framework will now give NHS trusts access to a broader supplier community and in turn suppliers who have specialist system knowledge, skills and services to implement specific departmental IT solutions…”

Chance for better connection with social care

Social care specialist OLM, listed in several of the categories, said it hoped the opportunity would encourage integration between health and social care.

OLM director Fraser McCluskey, said: “We hope that trusts looking to integrate better with social care networks will look toward us to provide the synergy they need and ensure continuity of care across different care settings. CareFirst is used extensively across the NHS already and we hope this will be the final piece of the jigsaw for our position as an NHS vendor.”

Bright outlook on labs

In the laboratory systems category, US-based Sunquest  hope the catalogue will enable it to become a key NHS provider. Vice-president, David Allcock, said: “If the new ASCC process can give Labs an easier way to procure and upgrade to Sunquest Laboratory we will of course fully engage and support them in this process.”

He added: “For our many existing Sunquest Laboratory users, we would hope that our being on the ASCC list will give them the confidence to further exploit our continued investment into functionality that improves workflow productivity and patient safety, supports pathology networks and integration of primary and secondary care, and accommodates the latest advancements in predictive medicine.”

Dave Simm, managing director of Technidata UK added: “Regarding the ASCC contract, we are extremely pleased to have been included both on the national list with our supplier partner, and on the SME list in our own right for Order Communications and Laboratory Information Systems (LIS) solutions. We expect that the ASCC will re-introduce opportunities for both innovation and choice for our customers within the NHS.”

Current NPfIT supplier response

Current NPfIT suppliers also welcomed the new framework contract lot 2 awards.

iSoft said it hoped it would help them reach the other clusters in England. Managing director, Paul Richards, said: “Our products and services are already the most widely used across the UK but this latest initiative gives new and existing customers easy access to a wide variety of additional iSoft software and services.

iSoft was selected in 27 service categories in lot 2. Richards said: “There is now anopportunity for iSoft to make further inroads in the London and Southern clusters by providing software and services that are not currently available should the procuring authorities opt for the ASCC route.”

A Cerner spokesperson added: “Quick and easy access to clinical information systems is a key element in successfully bringing about progressive technology transformation to UK healthcare. With this in mind, Cerner is pleased to be among the companies appointed to the ASCC Lot 2 framework contracts.

“Subject to being awarded further work, the framework contract will provide Cerner with new opportunities to support the National Programme for IT and allows us to deliver more effective healthcare solutions to the benefit of patients across England.”

ASCC ‘good news’, say LSPs

Gerry O’Keeffe, CSC vice president who leads on the NHS Account said: “This is good news for CSC as it shows continuing confidence in our abilities to supply IT and business services to the NHS.”

A spokesperson for BT added: “This is good news for BT as we’ve been appointed a supplier across a broad range of categories for the ASCC Framework agreement. This reflects well on what we are already delivering in healthcare.”

Primary care supplier EMIS was also awarded a number of categories. Sean Riddell, MD of EMIS Healthcare, said: “We are pleased to have been listed in a number of the Lot 2 categories and hope that this will encourage NHS trusts to approach us to help with providing solid interoperability between systems.

“The catalogue has increased the number of vendors available to trusts, but it is important that they think in terms of the need for integrated clinical data when they are looking at these systems,” Riddell added. “EMIS will be pushing CfH to focus much more on integration and making it a priority across healthcare.”

‘Best of breed’ welcomed by Strand Technology

Mental health specialist Strand Technology, argued the catalogue will empower NHS trusts to make the right choices. Sales director, David Hannam, said: “I believe that the ASCC framework contract finally allows organisations to select best of breed suppliers and applications that can deliver on the complex requirements of mental health.”

Lyn Wood CEO of out-of-hours specialistAdastra, added: “The framework agreement is a powerful endorsement of Adastra’s capability, versatility, and its compliance with CfH information governance standards.”

Kevin McDonnell, operations director at Digital Healthcare, added: “We now have an opportunity to support the NHS more fully with their clinical information technology requirements and the services that they provide to patients enabled by these technologies.”

Capgemini: ASCC ‘will open up health IT market’

Global technology consultants Capgemini welcomed the competition that ASCC would provide in the NHS. Andrew Jaminson, head of health & local government at Capgemini UK, said: “It will open up the health IT market in the UK.”

Jaminson added: “The Lot 2 will create competitions among suppliers to provide the best products and services, and this must ultimately bring benefits to the patients.”

Clinical decision support specialists, Clinical Solutions, commented: “Clinical Solutions is pleased with the approach that CfH has taken by bringing on board vendors with specific expertise to help achieve the improvement targets in the delivery of healthcare.

Mark Varian, sales and marketing director at the Map of Medicine commented: “As the Map is available to NHS staff in England and Wales our aim now is to work with PCTs and Trusts to meet local needs for ICPs and Decision Support tools to access evidenced based medicine faster in clinical systems. As there are additional requirements and funds for this we hope to work as a prime or subcontractor.”

Bitter pill for Ascribe on e-prescribing

In the pharmacy systems categories, Ascribe missed out on the prescribing category, but was appointed in the stock control category, whilst JAC were appointed in both categories.

Stephen Critchlow, executive chairman of Ascribe, said: “The ASCC framework agreement adds another option to our English NHS customers for the procurement of services and we look forward to the opportunity of supplying through this route.

“The catalogue will provide local purchasers within the English NHS greater autonomy to make healthcare IT decisions. Our order book has already grown to record levels from local procurement outside of the National Programme and now that Ascribe has been included on the ASCC, we expect our order pipeline to grow further still.”

Rob Tysall-Blay, JAC’s chief executive , added: “The awarding of the ASCC contracts now provides a framework for health care organisations to procure specialist services or complex multiple-system solutions at local, regional or even national levels.”

Others to offer EHI comments on the ASCC announcements included Siemens. Jim Middleton, director of managed service and IT solutions at Siemens Medical Solutions, said: “We are delighted that the Siemens’ Soarian solution and our partner offerings are now part of the Additional Supply Capability and Capacity (ASCC) Framework, joining the other IT products and services we offer already through our earlier appointment to ASCC Lots 1 and 3.

“This framework streamlines the procurement process through which the NHS can access a wide scope of innovative and proven IT solutions available to help continue to improve the quality of healthcare and support the drive for increased efficiency. We look forward to engaging with the National Programme for IT and the NHS healthcare community to utilise this agreement in delivering improved outcomes across the care continuum.”

Professor Ian Purves, chairman and CEO of SCHIN, said: “SCHIN (Sowerby Centre for Health Informatics at Newcastle) has been appointed as a Lot 2 ASCC supplier in recognition of its years of experience in health informatics and service delivery to the NHS, in particular through the NHS Clinical Knowledge Summaries (formerly PRODIGY) and the NHS Appraisal Toolkit. This also highlights a growing partnership between SCHIN and Apollo Medical.”


Joe Fernandez