Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust and the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust have gone out to tender for an electronic patient record system worth up to £35m.

The notice, published in the Official Journal of the European Union, says the executive teams of the two trusts are “exploring whether closer partnership working has the potential to improve the quality, sustainability and viability of clinical services for the population of Devon and Somerset."

“IT is widely recognised as an enabler in this process and a shared EPR solution is a major strategic consideration,” it adds.

The value of the ten-year contract is £15m-£20m, with an option to extend for an additional five years taking the total value to £25m-£30m.

Taunton is one of nine Cerner live sites in the South that need to procure a replacement for their Millennium EPR beyond October 2015.

The trusts received Millennium as part of the National Programme for IT in the NHS, initially from local service provider Fujitsu, and then from BT. They meet regularly and a number are reportedly working together on procurements.

Royal Devon is not one of the Cerner live sites. The trust went out to tender for the “first elements of a tactical electronic patient record” in December 2009 with a vision of implementing full EPR by 2014.

It signed a five-year contract with System C, a McKesson company, in 2010 for order communications and electronic prescribing, with an option to extend for two years.

The new OJEU notice says the EPR system being procured is anticipated to include a patient administration system comprising outpatients, inpatients, Choose and Book, real-time bed management and case note tracking, among other things.

Also, an A&E system, theatres, maternity, order communications, medicines management (including e-prescribing), clinical noting, decision support and a clinical portal.

The trusts also need including data migration, project management, technical implementation, interfacing and integration, training, documentation, support and maintenance.

Taunton and Somerset’s IT director Malcolm Senior said the decision to work with Royal Devon was based on the direction of the trusts towards sharing some clinical services.

He said it was difficult to predict what the model of care for the South West would look like in 20 years’ time, but the trust wanted to keep its options open.

“The business strategy could link clinicians between the two hospitals, so having the IT connected could be advantageous and we wanted to provide an option in the procurement for the two trusts to consider taking the same IT,” Senior explained.

He said the end of the NPfIT was an opportunity for trusts to look at what the market could offer.

The cost of paying for Millennium beyond 2015 would be “significant” and the trust accepted that it would need to invest in IT in the future, he added.

Senior said the contract could go to a single supplier or a collaboration. Ultimately, the two trusts were looking for a flexible partner to work with them on achieving an EPR.

The aim was to have a contract signed by spring 2014 and for Taunton to start exiting the BT data centre in spring or early summer of the following year.

“Hopefully what comes out of this is not just options between ourselves, but how that interlinks and interoperates with other organisations in the South West,” Senior said.