University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust will offer its Prescribing Information and Communication System to the NHS on a licence-free basis instead of “open-sourcing” it.

EHI reported last week that NHS England is working with four different organisations, one of which is Birmingham, to put their products on a new open source electronic patient record systems framework.

The trust’s medical director, Dr Dave Rosser, told EHI that Birmingham would not be offering its PICS e-prescribing system open source because it is too risky.

“We think open sourcing PICS would be dangerous. It’s too complicated a programme with very complicated code,” said Dr Rosser.

“It would be risky to say the least. It has 600,000 lines of code and it is all interactive. It’s very easy to make a change in one part that changes something in another part that not even the programmers can predict.”

Speaking at EHI Live last week, Beverley Bryant, director of strategic systems and technology at NHS England, said that up to £20m of the £250m first round of the Safer Hospitals, Safer Wards Technology Fund will go towards developing the open source option.

Twenty trusts have expressed an interest in using open source systems. IMS Maxims, HP and the US Veterans Association system, VistA, are also expected to be on the framework that trusts will be able to call-off against.

Dr Rosser said that Birmingham is keen on being a part of the framework and will happily provide the system to the rest of the NHS.

“We’re working with NHS England to make it available to the NHS license-free. Beverley Bryant and her team are very sensible and we have come to an agreement,” he said.

“We would make the licence available and provide the on-going support, because no one else can, and the trust taking the system will then go out to tender for an implementation partner.”

For the past three years, Birmingham has been working to commercialise the system in an implementation partnership agreement with CSE Healthcare.

Dr Rosser said that this did not mean the trust’s partnership with the company is over.

“CSE have agreed to drop their right to exclusivity of installing the system, but they would still be our preferred installer,” he said.

He added that the support for the system will be provided by a mixture of the installing trust, an outsourced provider and Birmingham.

“What we would be suggesting is a three tier support system. The installing trust would provide first line hardware support and we will probably go out to tender for a second level support because we don’t particularly want to do that,” he said.

“The third line support, such as if there’s a bug in the system, we will provide ourselves, but that happens very rarely. “