The Greater Manchester Consortium has decided to extend its deal with GE Healthcare to provide picture archiving and communications systems for 11 trusts in the region.

With the National Programme for IT in the NHS PACS contracts coming to an end in June 2013, the consortium’s project board has decided to procure an “interim service extension” through the NHS Supply Chain framework for the trusts, for an initial two year period.

Under NPfIT, 10 trusts in the Greater Manchester were supplied with PACS systems by GE under a local service provider contract with CSC. The new PACS deal also includes East Cheshire NHS Trust.

The Supply Chain framework was announced in July and is set to expire in 2016, but trusts will be able to sign longer contracts if they use it.

In an update to the Greater Manchester and Cheshire Cancer Network, Dr Rhidian Bramley, chief clinical information officer at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, informed attendees that GE has indicated that it will maintain the current service levels for less than the cost of the previous central contracts.

The core PACS infrastructure at the trusts has only been refreshed within the last year and according to EHI sources the trusts involved want to “leverage” this investment.

The meeting paper also indicates that pressure with timescales has been taken into account while the consortium hopes the decision will maintain business continuity for PACS and data sharing post June 2013.

The consortium has recommended that each trust retrieves its images, which are currently managed and stored centrally, by purchasing a local vendor neutral archive solution from CSC. It is working with GE how these systems will be linked together.

The VNA will support data sharing between the trusts, alongside the North West PACS portal, which allows doctors to view their patient’s images, taken in any NHS hospital across the region. The portal has 6,500 users and is being accessed 20,000 times a month.

The Greater Manchester project is also procuring RIS for the 11 trusts in the PACS project as well as East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust.

Currently, the RIS is a centrally hosted service and the full reprocurement process will aim to deliver a similar provision. The consortium is hoping to purchase a system for a period of over five years to ensure it provides “value for money” and can stagger deployment resources.

The ten trusts in the original GM consortium are: Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, Royal Bolton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospital South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust.