All of the trusts that will need to re-procure picture archiving and communications systems ahead of the end of national contracts have started procurement activity.

An update on the market refresh of PACS and related technologies, issued to eHealth Insider by the Department of Health Informatics Directorate, shows that 83 trusts need to re-procure systems.

The figure includes six trusts in areas in which Accenture was the local service provider; and in which most trusts have decided to make use of a contract extension secured by the DHID.

The other trusts are in areas where CSC was the local service provider; in which no extension has been negotiated.

PACS and radiology information systems were added to the National Programme for IT in the NHS a decade ago. Some 80% of its contracts expire in June 2013, with the remainder following between June 2014 and June 2016.

The update indicates that all trusts have started procurement activity, with ten at the supplier engagement stage, 24 having defined their requirements, and three at the PQQ or long-list stage. Twenty two trusts have short-listed suppliers and 24 have awarded contracts.

Alasdair Thompson, head of the national PACS programme, said there was a fairly even split between trusts deciding to go out to tender using the European Journal of the European Union and deciding to use a framework drawn up by NHS Supply Chain.

Dave Burns, senior buyer for NHS Supply Chain, told EHI in July that the framework was tendered to enable trusts to make tactical or strategic contract decisions, and to choose between going with a single supplier and adopting a ‘best of breed’ approach to PACS, RIS, archiving and services.

Thompson said he was seeing trusts looking to make big investments now, and trusts looking to make “tactical decisions, so they can look around later.”

“This is good, because there has been a lot of concern about the capacity of the market. It could not have coped with everybody wanting a new PACS, a new RIS, and a vendor neutral archive right now.

“We have managed to stagger it so there is a wave of people going now and a further wave of people going later.”

Thompson also said there was “a definite split” between trusts “looking to secure their existing level of functionality” and trusts looking to separate out PACS and other products, particularly VNAs.

The National PACS Programme has just created a map showing which suppliers have been winning business and posted this on its website.

It shows that new suppliers have succeeded in entering the market, and that the number of vendors with systems installed in NHS trusts in England will have increased by the end of the refresh.

Thompson added that a lot of work had been put into the process by CfH. “We are moving from national decision making to trusts making their own IT decisions, but we have not just said ‘right, this is all up to trusts now’,” he said.

“We have put a lot of information on the website and we have been running a Twitter campaign; we have been proactively managing this.”