Eighteen community and mental health trusts in London and the South have switched electronic patient record systems following the end of their national contracts.

Thirty-nine trusts were identified by the BT Local Service Provider programme board as needing to exit the BT data centre and move onto individual EPR supplier contracts by 31 October this year.

All had Servelec’s RiO system delivered by BT as part of the National Programme for IT, but a significant number have used the end of the programme as an opportunity to try new suppliers.

Six each have switched to Emis Web, TPP’s SystmOne and Advanced Health and Care’s CareNotes. The remaining 21 have kept RiO by moving to individual contracts with Servelec.

Nearly all used a £300 million framework contract created by the ‘2015 consortium’ of trusts to buy new systems and support.

Chair of the 2015 consortium Peter Gooch told Digital Health News that having a single deadline put unnecessary stress on everyone involved and it would have helped to have a staggered exit plan.

Getting everybody across the finishing line was a big group effort between NHS trusts, suppliers and the Health and Social Care Information Centre.  “It’s been a bit of a wild race; at times a rollercoaster ride, but we did it,” he said.

In the end, just one trust – Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation – failed to switch to its new system, CareNotes before the October deadline. It is now due to exit the BT data centre on 30 November.

The consortium work on exiting NPfIT kicked off about two and a half years ago. “Believe it or not we needed every minute of that time in order to get all the frameworks ready and everything else,” explained Gooch.

“It was a big learning curve, both for NHS trusts and the supplier market, but things settled down once a few trusts made the migration and suppliers got comfortable and used to the framework and what it required.”

The consortium is now refreshing the framework to make it available to acute trusts as well as community and mental health providers.

It will also be made widely available to trusts in the North Midlands and East of England, which need to exit national contracts by July 2016. Some in the region have already used it to procure systems.

“We are in the process of refreshing the framework, putting a lot of effort into ‘digital 2020’ and making it available for acute trusts as well as community and mental health,” said Gooch. “We found when looking at the acute space that it wasn’t that different from community and mental health.”

Gooch said the new framework will go out to OJEU in January and should be ready to go by late summer 2016.

Read more about the impact of NPfIT on community and mental health trusts in Features.