Six suppliers have been shortlisted to provide the NHS Electronic Staff Record in a contract worth £200m-£400m.

EHI understands the shortlisted suppliers are: CSC, IBM, Tata Consultancy Services, Steria, Atos, and BT (Accenture). EHI also understands HP withdrew from the process earlier this month.

The Department of Health said it could not comment on the specific suppliers because of confidentiality rules. However, it did say a list of the shortlisted suppliers will be published soon.

The ESR was one of the first, big IT projects to be deployed across the NHS. The contract to develop it was worth £325m when it was awarded to McKesson in 2001.

The company was tasked with creating an “integrated HR and payroll system” to replace a myriad of systems in use across NHS trusts.

McKesson was recently sold to an American private equity firm, Symphony. Although the deal did not include its UK workforce arm, the company confirmed at the time that it would not be looking to win the new contract.

Frank Rutley, McKesson’s managing director of UK Workforce Solutions, told EHI earlier this month that running such a major piece of infrastructure is no longer “core business” for the company.

McKesson will support the ESR until its contract expires in November 2015.

The DH issued a notice in the Official Journal of the European Union in December 2013, inviting companies to complete a pre-qualification questionnaire.

This process is now complete and the six suppliers have been selected to participate in the pre-invitation to negotiate stage.

This process is due to be completed later this month, and an invitation to negotiate stage should start in early July.