Six collaborations involving 21 Southern acute trusts have been formed to invest in a variety of new IT systems including e-prescribing, clinical portals and clinical documentation.

The trusts, which got nothing from the National Programme for IT in the NHS, are hoping to secure central funding for the systems.

Four of the six want e-prescribing, four want clinical documentation and three are after a clinical portal.

Senior responsible officer for the Southern Acute Programme, Richard Caves, told eHealth Insider that about 60% of acute trusts in the South did not get new IT systems through the national programme.

The trusts tried to obtain systems through a procurement using the Additional Supply Capability and Capacity framework.

However, this fell through late last year, shortly after a similar procurement for community and child health systems collapsed.

The Cabinet Office recently agreed to fund a community and child health procurement, which is now with ministers and at its final sign off stage.

Caves said the Cabinet Office’s approval was good news, but acknowledged that people would feel more confident once the tender is actually released.

“In all of this there’s an element of confidence building,” he said. “People are not sure if funding is going to be there. Our view is even if we don’t get central funding, many procurements will go ahead with local funding anyway.”

However, the different financial situations of the trusts involved mean some would be unlikely to proceed without government investment.

Caves said the programme aims to use lessons from the NPfIT to ensure it is “locally owned”. Local trusts lead the procurement process and will be the contract holders.

He added that the programme board is trying to give the trusts as much procurement authority as possible while still ensuring they qualify for central funding.

Trusts will also be expected to “have some skin in the game”, but the balance in terms of local and central funding is still to be decided.

“We think trusts having to invest some of their own money and owning the business case will make sure it’s much more aligned to local business requirements,” he said.

The programme has set “quite strong standards” for approval of the business cases with a benefit ratio expected of £2.4 benefit for every £1 spent to qualify for funding.

However, qualitative clinical benefits will also be taken into account alongside cash-releasing ones.

While there are no penalties in place for trusts that do not hit the targets set out in their business cases, Caves argues that because the business cases are locally owned trusts will have a greater interest in assuring they are achieved.

Trust business cases are due soon in preparation for a September programme board meeting and the aim is to get cabinet office approval by November. This would allow the procurement to begin this December.

The Southern Acute Programme held its first supplier event for interested trusts in Yeovil last week. Suppliers have also been engaged from the start of the process via the trade body, Intellect.

“There was real excitement amongst both clinicians and chief information officers and managers who attended to be able to see the latest generation of products as it’s been quite a while since they’ve been able to look at products in this way,” Caves said.

What they want:

Group A –Salisbury, Poole Hospital, Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals, Southern Health, Portsmouth Hospitals, Royal Surrey County Hospital, and University Hospitals Bristol – want an EPMA (best of breed).

Group B – Queen Victoria Hospital, East Sussex Healthcare, Western Sussex Hospitals – want e-prescribing, clinical documentation, order communications and an integrated clinical portal.

Group C – South Devon Healthcare, Torbay and South Devon Care Trust, South West Ambulance Service Trust, Rowcroft Hospice and Southern Devon GP practices (via commissioners) – want an ePrescribing system.

Group D – Dartford and Gravesham, Medway, East Kent Hospitals and Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells – want a PAS+, e-prescribing, clinical portal, and maternity (best of breed).

Group E – Gloucestershire Hospitals, Northern Devon Healthcare, and Yeovil District Hospital – want a PAS+, ePX, pharmacy/pharmacy stock control, clinical documentation, order communications, clinical portal, theatres, A&E and maternity.

Group F – Frimley Park Hospital, Ashford and St Peter’s Hospital, Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals – want clinical documentation/EDM.