Southern community procurement ‘close’

  • 16 March 2012
Southern community procurement ‘close’
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has deployed InterSystems' TrakCare electronic patient record system.

A new IT systems procurement for child and community trusts in the South is in the final stages of government approval and will be centrally funded, the Department of Health has confirmed.

EHealth Insider has learned that, following Cabinet sign-off, a tender is likely go out within a month, and that similar procurements for acute and ambulance systems will follow.

An Additional Supply Capability and Capacity procurement programme was launched in the South in November 2009.

It was meant to provide patient record systems for community and child health organisations, acute trusts and ambulance trusts that otherwise got nothing from the National Programme for IT in the NHS.

The community and child procurement was the most advanced and would have seen CSC deploy TPP’s SystmOne in 17 organisations. However, it collapsed last October after two years of effort.

EHI reported last November that an alternative Southern procurement would be offered to those trusts that had missed out. A number of mergers mean there are now eight “community organisations” eligible to get a system.

A DH spokesperson confirmed that the procurement for child and community health is in the process of being approved, while “ambulance and acute trusts are being supported in developing their options.”

“The DH will provide financial support to trusts which can demonstrate a robust value for money business case to support the investment,” she said.

Chief information officer for NHS South East Coast Tad Matus is the lead for the child and health procurement. He said this “flagship” procurement was just awaiting Cabinet sign-off.

After the number of stop-starts to Southern procurements in the past, Matus did not want to prejudge the outcome of this latest proposal. However he said there was “strong optimism” that it would come to fruition as it had policy backing.

“It’s taken rather an interesting period of time to get to this point, but it’s just topping and tailing things now, so finally we are able to get this.

“It’s important to get child and community health done so the rest of the procurements follow through pretty quickly,” he said.

If approved, the tender for a child and community system would go out to OJEU either this month or next. That would see the tender process run over the summer, with contracts signed before the end of the year.

“As soon as it’s out to market we will then be following through with approvals for ambulance, acute and integration,” Matus said.

He said individual contracts would be held by each organisation, but it would be one procurement process and the systems would be centrally funded from money set aside for the ASCC procurements.

The new procurement would cover all organisations that had not been provided for through a deal with BT to deliver CSE Healthcare’s RiO system.

Matus said the acute procurement would be available to about 30 trusts that had not had Cerner Millennium deployed by BT or its predecessor as local service provider for the South, Fujitsu.

He said all of those trusts were interested because “none have perfect systems”. It is likely that the acute procurement will give trusts the option to add to the functionality they have, rather than to ‘rip and replace’ their IT with a whole new electronic patient records system.

However, a few trusts may choose to go with this option. “I think people will be looking to make sure they add on the elements that their current systems don’t provide. For example, e-prescribing is important, but very few current systems provide a solution for that,” Matus said.

The DH added that a key objective of the Southern process was to give trusts “choice and control over which systems they use.”

“We will continue to work with trusts in the South to support them through this process and look forward to seeing the benefits to patients and staff that these deliveries will bring.”

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