A framework worth up to £20 million is being set up for Scottish health boards to buy electronic prescribing and medicine administration systems.

NHS National Services Scotland has issued a prior information notice for procurement of a national multi-supplier EPMA framework.

NHS NSS head of the Business Advisory Group Mark Salveta expects the contract to be worth between £10 million and £20 million over four years, depending on the number of boards that call-off and what options they might take.

“Most boards would like to do it. They certainly don’t want to be rushed into it because it’s a big change in practice, but everybody accepts that having an IT aid when prescribing is a good thing and should be rolled out when appropriate,” he told EHI News.

The formal tender will likely be released at the end of May with plans to have the framework established before the end of the year.

Salveta said there is already an option for trusts to buy JAC’s e-prescribing system as a sub-contractor of InterSystems, which signed a contract for a national patient management system for Scotland in January 2010.

NHS Ayrshire & Arran implemented JAC ten years ago.

Salveta said the new framework will provide more choice for boards and  opens up e-prescribing to those have not yet moved to InterSystems’ TrakCare.

“We want to give the boards a choice of those HEPMA (hospital EPMA) systems available so they can weigh up for themselves the best option,” he said.

He added that the business case for the systems is being worked through at the same time as the framework and will make a recommendation towards the end of the year.

“If it recommends that it makes sense for the centre to pay some it’s a possibility. If it says it looks affordable for boards they will go ahead themselves,” Salveta explained.

Between three and five suppliers are expected to be on the framework.  A supplier open day is planned for 5 May 2015 at the Golden Jubilee Hospital in Glasgow.

“We intend the framework to be a multi-supplier framework and where some specific Scottish requirements are not initially met by bidders they will be given the opportunity to modify their systems to meet our requirements,” the PIN says.

“As each successful bidder meets our requirements they can become active on the framework and available for boards to call off from.”