NHS Wirral has dropped its planned implementation of Lorenzo Release 1.9 and is carrying out an option appraisal for an alternative system, E-Health Insider has learned.

The primary care trust, which was due to be one of the ‘fast followers’ for iSoft’s electronic patient record under the National Programme for IT in the NHS, was due to go live with the system in March 2010.

It had to delay the go-live following changes to the programme in the North, Midlands and East of England, which focused on the need to get Lorenzo live in its first acute site, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.

A Wirral board paper published at the end of last year stated: “The software had been due in March 2010 but has been delayed until June 2010 as a result of NHS Connecting for Health taking the programme forward via acute early adopter site Morecambe Bay.”

NHS Wirral then set a new go-live date for the first phase of Lorenzo, which was to cover community therapies. The aim was to go live on 15 July, with speciality services and community nurses following shortly after. The deployment was then postponed to September 2010.

EHI has now learned that the trust has dropped the implementation altogether and is doing an option appraisal for an alternative system, with a view to implementing during spring 2012.

A spokesperson for NHS Wirral said: “We can confirm that as of October 2010 the programme has been suspended. We await publication of the white paper.”

Last month, trusts across the country were told that they would be able to take a more localised approach to procuring IT systems and would not face penalties if they decided not to take an NPfIT system – namely Cerner in London or Lorenzo in the NME.

However, director general of informatics Christine Connelly has said the existing local service provider contracts will be “honoured” and that BT and CSC will be guaranteed a number of trusts to take the systems.

EHI has approached strategic health authorities in the NME to ask how many trusts plan to opt out of Lorenzo. Each has said that they are “in ongoing discussions with CSC, and we are engaging with trusts to keep them informed.”

Earlier this week, at a conference in London, health secretary Andrew Lansley reiterated that the government would not be abandoning the LSP contracts.

In response to a question from former health IT minister Tom Sackville he said: “I can tell you in simple terms that we inherited the NHS IT programme, as it was, with its contracts.

"And while there is no value to the taxpayer in abandoning or abrogating those contracts – which stand a chance of giving some value to the public and NHS – we were determined from the outset to turn the IT scheme on its head.

“We will support the development of IT. We will ensure that there are clear standards and protocols available to enable people to talk to one another, and for information to be dispatched to one another for the benefit of patients. But we will not turn ourselves into a central holder of contracts.”