Community and mental health trusts in London and the South are “working like fury” to pick new suppliers and replace their RiO electronic patient record systems by October next year.

Thirty trusts, which had RiO delivered by BT under the National Programme for IT, are part of a ‘2015 Consortium’ that is using a framework contract to procure new systems.

Nine suppliers are on the framework to supply EPRs, hosting and clinical portals to the trusts, which need to replace their systems before their national contracts expire in October 2015.

“Trusts are working like fury, putting the effort in to get on to new systems before the October 2015 deadline,” Peter Gooch, chair of the ‘2015 Consortium’ told EHI.

He added that all of the trusts involved have plans in place to migrate in the next 18 months and said that while this will be challenging, he believes it is achievable.

The first of the group of trusts to pick a new supplier was West London Mental Health Trust, which confirmed it has chosen Servelec Healthcare to deliver the RiO electronic patient record system in November last year.

Gooch, who is also the associate director of ICT at Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, said three more trusts have picked their preferred supplier and are awaiting board approval for the funding. He expects news of more contract awards in the coming weeks.

Many other trusts in the consortium are part-way through their mini-competitions and tender phase. Camden and Islington is in the midst of reference site visits and is looking to decide which system to buy in April.

A number of other trusts from around the country have also joined the framework, worth up to £300m, making it likely to be the biggest EPR procurement framework operating in Europe.

Trusts that have joined the framework include Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust and Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

He expects more trusts from the North and Midlands to join, but these organisations have more time as their national contracts do not expire until 2016. Trusts do not have to use the framework, but only a couple have chosen not to.

Gooch said that a number of suppliers have worked hard to develop their software and functionality since the tender was first released.

“At the beginning, I thought suppliers would only go for the bigger trusts and the smaller ones might struggle, but we have found that suppliers are basing their decisions on good sound business process; how likely they are to win a bid and how well the system fits into that individual trust irrespective of size,” he said.

“It will be interesting to see after a year the spread of winning suppliers. I do think there will be a spread, but it will take time for that to tease out.”

He added that some suppliers on the framework had not been active in the mini-competitions, such as System C, a McKesson company, which is in the midst of being sold.

Trusts are focusing on procuring from Lots 1 and 2 of the framework, which covers the EPR and hosting, but will be looking to purchase a portal in the future.

BT is currently rolling out Release 2 of RiO to trusts in London and the South. Gooch said not all of the 30 trusts will take the upgrade as it would not make sense if they are switching suppliers.