Weston Area Health NHS Trust has signed a £3.2 million deal to continue using Cerner Millennium until the trust's "imminent" acquisition by Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust.

A ‘voluntary ex ante transparency notice’ published in the Official Journal of the European Union says the contract covers support and hosting of its existing Cerner patient administration system, A&E system and “associated services” until September 2017.

The implication is that Weston Area Health will ultimately end up using the newly open source electronic patient record system from IMS Maxims, which is due to implement its EPR at Taunton and Somerset in July.

Weston Area Health received Cerner Millennium from BT under the National Programme for IT in 2007

The contract covers use of the systems from the expiry of NPfIT contracts this October until acquisition of the trust by Taunton and Somerset, which is estimated to be no later than 31 March 2016.

Worth £3.2 million, the contract was negotiated without a call for competition and awarded in March.

Weston Area Health had gone out tender to replace its electronic patient record system in July 2013.

The latest OJEU notice says the trust had identified a preferred bidder from this process, but in January of this year, the NHS Trust Development Authority rejected its business case to proceed to contract award because of the "imminent" acquisition by Taunton and Somerset.

The trust was forced to abandon the initial procurement and  find an “interim solution”, but was left with “inadequate time to procure and effect safe transition of a replacement system prior to termination”.

For that reason, the trust had to sign with Cerner and will move its data out of the BT data centre to Cerner’s data centre.

“In order to maintain a safe PAS/A&E system, the trust must therefore negotiate directly with the current provider of the software, who alone has the requisite knowledge and intellectual property rights to continue to deliver the existing contract,” the notice says.

The contract runs up until September 2017 to allow the safe migration of systems and data following Weston and Somerset’s acquisition and includes an optional one-off extension period of up to 12 months.

No contract will be entered into until NHS TDA approval is granted.