A collaborative of six trusts in Sussex and Surrey is scheduled to complete the implementation of new digital imaging systems this month.

The collaborative, made up of East Sussex, Brighton and Sussex University, Western Sussex, Queen Victoria, Royal Surrey County and Ashford and St Peter’s Hospital trusts, began the procurement process in 2011.

The move was initiated by East Sussex, which had procured an Agfa picture archiving and communications system before PACS was added to the National Programme for IT in the NHS.

The contract on the East Sussex PACS was due to run out in mid-2012, a year before the end of the national contracts in most parts of the country.

In May 2012, the collaborative announced the new suppliers. Philips was chosen to provide PACS, HSS to provide a radiology information system, and Acuo to provide a vendor neutral archive.

Neil Crundwell, consultant radiologist at East Sussex, told a recent Acuo event that the procurement process had taken longer than anticipated, and that a collaborative approach had been complex to manage.

“Across six sites, it became very difficult to find venues and times when everyone could come along [to meetings], and that structure becomes much harder across this size of group,” he said.

There have been significant benefits, however. Each trust saved about £65,000 in procurement costs in comparison to what they would have spent procuring individually.

The trusts in the consortium that had previously been tied into a local service provider deal made a 35% saving on the cost of a managed service.

Dr Crundwell said he expected to see a number of improvements as a result of the new implementation, including the redesign of workloads, which would make it possible to “track abnormal results and make sure action is taken by the referring clinician.”

Images are now instantly available for the referring organisation within the collaborative, he said, and the VNA will be able to store information from other disciplines, such as gastroenterology and pathology.

Read more about the procurement on EHI Imaging Informatics.