Thirty community and mental health trusts in London and the South expect to complete ‘mini-competitions’ to choose new electronic patient record system suppliers by the end of this year.

Nine suppliers are on a new framework worth up to £300m to supply EPRs, hosting and clinical portals to the trusts, which had CSE Healthcare’s RiO EPR delivered by BT as part of NPfIT.

All the trusts need to transition off their national contract by October 2015.

Peter Gooch, chair of the ‘2015 Consortium’, and associate director of ICT at Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, said each provider had to go through a mini-competition and wanted to move quickly.

A number of trusts are looking to start the process within three months and the vast majority will complete the process by the end of this year.

Trusts were aware that external suppliers can only support a finite number of mini-competitions and deployments at a time, he said. By starting early, trusts should be able to spread the load.

“There’s not a lot of time when you consider how long it takes to deploy these systems,” he said.

“That’s focused a lot of trusts’ minds. They need to think this year and start deployment next year so they are on to a new system before the contract ceases.”

A number of trusts are looking to work in groups with similar interests for both the mini-competitions and deployments and suppliers were encouraging this approach.

Gooch said trusts were feeling positive about moving off national contracts, which had constrained what they could do with their IT.

“They have constrained flexibility and trusts have had to adapt so there’s a lot of excitement now that they have the opportunity to put in systems they can control and configure.”

Gooch said the maximum costs quoted by suppliers were substantially lower than what was being paid under NPfIT, with more enhanced functionality and interfacing.

The framework life is four years and a number of other trusts have already signalled that they would like to join.

While a lot of focus was on the EPR, trusts were also conscious of the importance of Lot three – a clinical portal – as this was key to achieving pathways of care that work across multiple organisations.

He said the new clinical commissioning groups were pushing the interoperability agenda, saying they want integrated care and sharing of information much sooner.

The original tender was split into three lots; the application; hosting services; and integration, interoperability, reporting and portal services.

Advanced Health and Care, BT, Civica, CSE Healthcare, Emis and McKesson are each on the framework for all three lots.

Capita is on for lot two, QuickSilva is on for lot three and TPP is on for lots one and two.