Computer Sciences Corporation has stepped up its marketing of a Portuguese electronic patient record (EPR) system called Alert to NHS trusts in the North Midlands and East of England.

CSC is understood to have invested technical resources in evaluating and testing the Alert EPR over the past six months.

The move comes despite ongoing delays to the development and implementation of the strategic Lorenzo software that the company is contracted to deliver to the three-fifths of the English NHS under the National Programme for IT in the NHS.

A CSC spokesperson confirmed to E-Health Insider that it was evaluating the Alert product, which it could offer to NHS trusts under the Additional Supply Capability and Capacity (ASCC) framework contract.

"CSC is currently evaluating the Alert application to determine whether it has appropriate functionality for the NHS. CSC is in discussion with a number of trusts and private healthcare providers, with a view to offering Alert – if deemed appropriate by ourselves and NHS Connecting for Health – to the NHS under the ASCC framework.”

Sources indicate that CSC is actively marketing the Alert system to a number of trusts unable to wait until advanced clinical functionality becomes available in Lorenzo. Sites potentially looking at taking Alert are thought to include NHS Foundation Trusts.

Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Blackpool Fylde and Wyre Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust are all understood to have looked at the system.

Alert was a prominent exhibitor at April’s Healthcare Computing exhibition, where a number of CSC personnel were present on the stand. At the show, the company was demonstrating Alert as a full EPR system.

The CSC spokesperson stressed that Alert was not being offered as an alternative to the iSoft product: “They are a partner within the ASCC framework, not an alternative to our strategic solution, Lorenzo."

In June, NHS CfH boss Gordon Hextall told MPs on the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee that CSC was offering the product to hospital trusts as an “interim” e-prescribing system.

Asked why CSC was offering the Portuguese Alert system, instead of the Lorenzo software system, Hextall replied: “The Alert system is a very good e-prescribing system.”

He made it clear that Alert was not intended as a replacement for Lorenzo, the first go-live of which at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, remains imminent.

The second release of the long-delayed iSoft product – which is meant to include a full new patient administration system as well as clinical tools – is thought to have now definitely slipped out of 2008.

In May’s ASCC framework procurement, run by NHS CfH, Alert was appointed to 27 of the 37 ASCC service categories.