London’s trusts running the Cerner Millennium electronic patient record have all signed new deals to replace their nationally funded contracts, with Cerner retaining its hold in the capital.

However, the chief information officer leading the work says the “acid test” for trusts will come in the next six months, as they seek to move their data out of the BT data centre before an October deadline.

A consortium of six London trusts (formerly nine) received Cerner Millennium delivered by BT under the National Programme for IT.

Ahead of the expiration of their national contracts in October 2015, the trusts launched a tender in 2012 for a patient administration system and EPR, a clinical portal and hosting services.

John-Jo Campbell, the CIO at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and chairman of a CIO forum for the London Cerner trusts, told EHI News that all trusts involved in the consortium have now signed new contracts to replace their NPfIT arrangements.

Campbell said the London trusts have all decided to stick with Cerner, although some Southern trusts that subsequently joined the framework went with different suppliers.

Work started on the project in 2011 with the establishment of the consortium and the development of the framework contract, with Campbell praising the collaboration between the trusts.

“The good thing is that we’ve had so many trusts working in collaboration towards a common goal, and that’s what made it possible for us to establish a single framework which everyone else could use.”

He said the trusts are now focussed on moving their data from BT to Cerner before the October deadline, with the Health and Social Care Information Centre providing “overarching oversight”.

“The next steps are the critical steps for operational certainty – everyone’s got new contracts which is great, but the next six to seven months as we migrate from BT-hosted services to the new agreements will be the real acid test. At the moment, we’ve got a timeline which [all of the trusts] do fit into.”

Campbell said the CIO forum will now transition into a similar group focussed on interacting with suppliers and developing stronger relationships.

Simon Evans, a director at Nautilus Consulting – which helped the trusts to establish the procurement framework – told EHI News the main challenge facing trusts during the migration process is “breaking away from the relationship” with BT and managing the work themselves.

“They’re now in a position where they do need to do a lot of work themselves, but they’re also in a position where a lot of skills have been lost.”

Nautilus will work with the trusts in a “lighter touch assurance capacity” during the transition process, he said.

Geoff Segal, Cerner's general manager, said: "We are very much looking forward to continuing our great relationship with our existing NHS partners in London and across the country.

"Together we are and will continue to focus on functional roll out, clinical transformation, interoperability and population health to improve patient care and the health of our communities."