Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership Trust has become the first to sign a contract for an electronic patient record system jointly developed by the Sandwell Mental Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust and Oasis Medical Solutions.

The Oasis Sandwell EPR was launched as a shared service model to other trusts earlier this year, following its successful implementation in four specialist areas at Sandwell five years ago.

Ian Baines, Dudley and Walsall’s director of finance and performance, who led the trust’ss evaluation process, said: “We inherited four separate IT systems when we combined in 2008, and the need for a single, proven, NHS CRS compliant mental health system became a priority for us.

“We were told that the earliest possible date for Lorenzo full mental health functionality would be 2014-15 and considered this unacceptable. So we rigorously examined all the available alternatives.”

Dudley and Walsall would have been due to take Lorenzo from local service provider CSC as part of the National Programme for IT in the NHS.

Lorenzo was due to be deployed to the North, Midlands and East of England, but has run into repeated delays. The first early adopter mental health trust has yet to go-live with the software.

According to Sandwell’s deputy chief executive, Paul Stefanowski, there has been considerable interest in the Sandwell Oasis EPR since it was announced in September that trusts who had been waiting for NPfIT systems would allowed to go out to tender without facing penalties.

Stefanowski told E-Health Insider: “From a trust perspective, we haven’t got a huge marketing budget, so we’ve mostly been using our mental health networks, strategic health authority and word of mouth.

“Since the demise of NPfIT, many have jumped as soon as they knew that there were other options open to them or if, as in the case of Dudley, the timing and the delivery of the national system was too slow."

Sandwell also says that is also leading on Payment by Results in the West Midlands so other trusts are looking to see the system that is supporting that.

Stefanowski added: “The system has been developed by staff at the trust to make sure it meets their needs and every application is suited to clinical practice. The benefit of the partnership is that we can easily tweak it whenever we need to.”

Oasis will provide the traditional software implementation at Dudley and Sandwell will provide training methods such as ‘train the trainers’.

Baines added: “We chose the Oasis Sandwell solution because we could see it working in every department of Sandwell. It has full mental health functionality and it is flexible and affordable.

“The shared service model makes sense for us and for the NHS and the taxpayer yet gives us the flexibility to configure it for our organisation, meeting out working practices and Caldicott obligations.”

The trusts say that the deal has led them to look at other areas where they can exploit joint working to provide economies of scale.

Stefanowski added: “The Oasis product has been the catalyst of a lot of joint working. The deal with Dudley and Walsall is not a competitive commercial relationship but much more of a partnership.”

Sharon Boyes-Schiller, managing director at Oasis Medical Solutions added: “Two imaginative trusts will share idea and jointly continue to develop a system that really adds value to the work they understand better than any supplier.”

EHI Live 2010: Oasis Medical Solutions is showing the system on stand C6.