The much anticipated announcement of which trusts have secured funding from the second round of tech fund bids has “cleared the wall of NHS England” and become stuck in Danny Alexander’s inbox, Beverley Bryant told EHI Live 2014.
The director of strategic systems and technology for NHS England was responding to delegates at the Health CIO Network conference that is running alongside EHI Live 2014, many of whom reported that not knowing whether bids had been successful was making long term informatics planning difficult.
Bryant said that she was “beyond sorry” that the announcement of the outcome of the ‘Integrated Digital Care Fund’ bids have not yet been made, and said she was now hoping that the success or failure of bids would be known by this Friday.
She joked that her colleague, Paul Rice, was phoning the office of the chief secretary to the Treasury daily to try and make sure this happened.
She also revealed that her team has been working on the management of the NHS IT market over the next few years, as a huge wave of trusts goes out to market for new systems in response to the end of the National Programme for IT’s contracts in the North, Midlands and East, and the latest IT strategy.
She said one of the focuses of this work was developing a clinical information systems buying framework, working in conjunction with NHS Shared Business Services.
All major suppliers of clinical information systems have signed up to the framework, she said, “except for one” which some members of the audience “might want to use”; but which she declined to name.
She said the other suppliers on the framework should give trusts choice, and that it would include specific advice on child information systems and e-prescribing as part of a “gold standard toolkit” for trusts to use.
The plan is to offer specific guidance on other types of system if NHS organisations find it useful.
Bryant said NHS England hopes the framework will reduce the duplication of work by trusts procuring new solutions, but also help to control a market that could be facing so much demand that suppliers will be able to “pick and choose” clients.
Reporting that 235 clinical information systems procurements are expected in the next year alone, she issued a call for action that “if we are all going out to tender at the same time, to the same suppliers, those suppliers are going to look at which clients are the best for them reputationally, which can be closed quickest, and which have the biggest profit margins.
“We don’t want an NHS with money, drive and passion and no suppliers that want to work with it,” she concluded.
She emphasised that the intention is not to prescribe which systems should be implemented by which organisations.
“We have taken feedback from a large audience to help develop the framework to build in local flexibility,” she said. “You will be able to write your own specification for clinical information systems, be able to customise, but the point is you don’t have to start from scratch.”
Bryant also urged chief information officers and other IT leaders in the NHS to “educate” boards and clinicians about the huge amount of work involved in tendering for systems and then implementing them.
She further said they needed to “step up” and build capacity and capability in their own teams to cope with the work ahead.