NHS Oldham has outsourced its IT services to Computacenter in a four year deal worth £650,000 a year.

The primary care trust says the deal has already saved it 10% on its previous arrangements, provided by a PCT-run shared service. It estimates savings of a further 25% over the next year to 18 months.

Stephen Sutcliffe, executive director of finance at NHS Oldham, said the predicted savings did not account for the potential to save money through creating a more productive workforce which he said could run into “millions and millions.”

Sutcliffe told EHI Primary Care that the initial contract covers the 1,000 staff working for the commissioning and provider arms of the PCT and will be extended to cover GP practices as well.

Sutcliffe said Computacenter was selected because it was able to provide better value for money and because it had the commercial expertise the PCT wanted.

He added: “One of the main things that I was looking for was that IT wasn’t an issue. We want our services to be assisted by IT and not hampered by it. We wanted a good solid infrastructure and I think we’ve now got that.”

Sutcliffe said Computacenter was also helping the PCT to introduce mobile and remote working, telehealth initiatives and integration between health, social care and education.

Sutcliffe added: “We have an ambitious plan in Oldham that we are moving towards with an integrated model of care and we don’t want IT to be a barrier to that with systems that don’t talk to each other.”

NHS Oldham said the £650,000 a deal also included an agreement that any efficiencies generated by Computacenter would be reflected in the price agreed for the following year.

Sutcliffe added: “What we are about is delivering health outcomes for the population of Oldham and this is about making sure our clinicians can work in the best possible way and make use of innovation from other sectors.”

The deal with NHS Oldham is one of several contracts Computacenter has with the NHS including hospitals, commissioning groups and NHS trusts as well as involvement in the delivery of Microsoft’s Enterprise Agreement with Connecting for Health. Other public sector clients include Ordnance Survey, KentPolice and London Underground.

Chris Price, public sector director at Computacenter, said NHS Oldham was leading the way in outsourcing the management of its IT to technology experts.

He added: “"With pressure now to find at least £15 billion in savings across the NHS by 2014, it is crucial that primary care trusts look to optimise their IT processes and take advantage of economies of scale by outsourcing IT provision.

"This will enable them to reduce costs significantly and spend more time with patients."