Community and mental health trusts in London and the South appear on track to meet an October deadline to replace their RiO electronic patient record systems, with attention now moving to the North, Midlands and East.

Thirty trusts, which had RiO delivered by BT under the National Programme for IT, formed the ‘2015 Consortium’ in 2012 to set up a framework contract worth up to £300 million to procure new systems.

Peter Gooch, chairman and programme director of the 2015 Consortium, told EHI the vast majority of the original member trusts “are just about home and hosed”, having either completed their procurement process and begun deployment, or finishing the final stages of procurement.

Gooch said a further eight trusts have joined the consortium since it was established, with a number of other trusts also preparing to join as the deadline for replacing their systems draws nearer.

“This month is probably the last month that we can let anyone join the consortium if they’ve got an October 2015 deadline, because we don’t think that it can really be done after January.”

Gooch said the framework has been a success for London and the South, with the London Procurement Partnership estimating that it has saved £73 million, compared with the average £9 million cost of providing RiO to each trust under the National Programme for IT.

While the majority of trusts focussed on procuring EPRs through the framework, Gooch said several are now looking at implementing clinical portals. The framework has also helped suppliers to improve their tenders and deployment processes, he said.

Gooch said there has been “a lot of dialogue and interest” from trusts in the North, Midlands and East as they work towards their July 2016 exit date, with many keen to use the framework to procure their replacement systems.

Mary Barber, the CSC LSP programme director at the Health and Social Care Information Centre, recently told EHI the organisation has been “chipping away” at managing the NME transition, after earlier expressing fears that suppliers could struggle to meet the huge demand for systems.

In response to the demand, Gooch said the consortium has decided to host a free conference in Leeds on 19 March for trusts to ask questions about the framework and express their interest.

Gooch said trusts facing the July 2016 deadline need to make decisions as soon as possible due to the time it takes to produce a business case and get it approved by a trust board, as well as contract negotiations with a supplier.

“If they haven’t really got a plan in place soon, it will be almost too late for them to exit by 2016.

“They don’t have as much time as they think they have – wherever they go, they need to do it sooner rather than later.”

Trusts interested in attending the Leeds conference can contact consortium project manager Delia Santhikumar for more information.