A consortium of 11 trusts in Cheshire and Merseyside has implemented a radiology information system from HSS, on a five-year contract.

The RIS was implemented in January this year, well ahead of the 30 June deadline, when the contracts for both RIS and picture archiving and communications systems negotiated under the NPfIT National PACS Programme ran out.

Sharron Dyce, PACS manager at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, a consortium member, said: “We wanted to put our RIS in early before getting the PACS deployment in, to take the pressure off.”

The consortium, one of the largest in the country to undertake a PACS/RIS procurement, began the process through OJEU in October 2011.

Because the trusts work closely together, it made sense for them to share the same RIS, said Dyce.

“We’re quite a close healthcare community, and we all have similar needs,” she explained. “We have specialised trusts within our consortium, which encourages the patient movement from one to another.”

Consortium members were already using an HSS RIS, provided by CSC under the local service provider agreement arranged through the NPfIT.

“We’ve all realised the benefits of having an instance-wide RIS over the national contract, and we didn’t want to lose it. It was something HSS were proven in providing on an instance basis,” said Dyce

The process of procurement and implementation was time-consuming, she added. “There were days when we were sitting in meeting rooms for three days every week, for six weeks on the trot, going through ITTs and PQQs.

“It has really been hard for the system managers because we’ve never been involved in procurement before, but we’ve had a strong programme team keeping it all together.”

Although the transition was smoother than it would have been if the trusts had been moving to a RIS from another vendor, there were still challenges, said Dyce.

“It was the first time HSS has migrated a whole instance and that proved to be one of the most difficult challenges on the go-live weekend. We had to migrate 11 trusts’ data and then migrate it back and join it all together.”

In the next few months, the trusts will undertake an upgrade to the current HSS system that will improve patient workflow.

Dyce said she welcomed the ability to deal directly with HSS, rather than go through an LSP.

“Previously, you couldn’t suggest any enhancements to the system because the system didn’t develop during the time of the national programme. It was there and that was it. It’s really good to be speaking to HSS as the supplier now and to direct the developers to suggest improvements.”

The 11 trusts in the consortium are: Aintree University Hospitals, Alder Hey Children’s, Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology, Liverpool Community Health, Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital, Liverpool Women’s, Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals, Southport and Ormskirk Hospital, St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals, Walton Centre, and Warrington and Halton Hospitals.