Trusts have been warned not to delay the start of the procurement process for picture archiving and communications systems to replace those negotiated under the National Programme for IT in the NHS.

Dave Burns, senior buyer for NHS Supply Chain, told EHI Imaging Informatics that some trusts might be tempted to put off the procurement process.

“We would like to make sure that trusts don’t fall into the trap of sitting back and thinking “we have two or three years to run, so we’ve got plenty of time,” he said.

“The more trusts do that, the more trusts will come onto the market together at the end of the process, and clearly that’s going to be in no-one’s best interests.”

Burns was speaking at the NHS Supply Chain conference on PACS and radiology information systems held earlier this week.

This aimed to encourage those trusts that have not yet started the procurement process to use the NHS Supply Chain PACS and RIS framework, which was tendered last year to support the transition away from the national contracts.

As a result of the National PACS Programme, which started in 2004,128 acute trusts, organised into clusters, were provided with PACS and RIS systems that were managed by a local service provider.

About 80% of the these contracts were due to run out at the end of June this year, while contracts for the remainder – which includes trusts in London – run out between June 2014 and June 2016.

Trusts have the option of procuring their new PACS through the Official Journal of the European Union or through a framework drawn up by NHS Supply Chain.

If they choose the framework, they can opt either for a strategic procurement or a short-term tactical procurement, enabling them to buy time. Burns said that the majority of trusts that had opted to use the framework so far had chosen tactical procurements.

The procurement process has proved fast, compared to OJEU, he added. A strategic procurement typically took six months, while a tactical procurement took about three months.

“The re-procurement of the licences can be carried out in incredibly short order, because we have the template contracts pre-written, enabling organisations to push down that route and have the contract in place very quickly.”

Few of the trusts so far have opted for managed services contracts, said Burns, because they want to “own” the data. Research by EHI Intelligence suggests that trusts that are opting for managed contracts are tending to use their PACS or storage supplier, rather than a third party.

“In the national programme, a lot of trusts felt disjointed from ownership. They feel they have this application but they don’t have the control. Trusts are reticent to let the data go off site,” Burns said.

The conference also heard from Alasdair Thompson, head of the National PACS Programme, who said that many trusts had already begun the procurement process.

In most cases, he said implementation was on track to meet the 1 July 1 deadline. In all, 78 trusts from the North West, West Midlands and Southern clusters have procured replacement PACS and RIS, while six trusts in Yorkshire and the North East have also done so.

Thompson reported that there was a 50/50 split between those who went to OJEU and those who used the framework. The OJEU option had mainly been chosen by those who wanted to begin the procurement process early, before the framework was launched, he added.

‘Waving not drowning: a new analysis of England’s PACS/RIS market refresh was recently published by EHI Intelligence for £1995+VAT, including a report and an online seminar. It is also available to some EHI Intelligence subscribers as part of their service.

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