A northern trust has developed a new clinical IT framework that it hopes will compete nationally in what is already a crowded market.

Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, through its spin-off company QE Facilities, released the broad framework last month.

David Burns, frameworks manager at QE Facilities, said it was probably the broadest clinical IT framework in market.

“We’re trying to capture as much of a view of what IT the community in a hospital needs as we possibly can.”

There are 49 suppliers on the framework, covering 52 products, including electronic patient records, patient administration systems, PACs, RIS, e-prescribing and specialist departmental systems.

Suppliers include big names such as Cerner, System C and Agfa, as well as SMEs seeking to disrupt the market, Burns said.

NHS IT frameworks are designed to standardise procurement of systems, in theory reducing costs and improving quality for trusts, and providing a more assured commercial pathway for suppliers into the NHS.

Two government or government-associated bodies, NHS Supply Chain and NHS Shared Business Services, already provide national IT frameworks, and many regions have developed their own frameworks tailored to local needs.

These include the Clinical Digital Information Systems Framework, developed by a consortium of trusts in London, but available as blueprint for other regions.

Burns worked on IT frameworks at NHS Supply Chain, the NHS logistics service run by DHL, for eight years before moving to Gateshead.

He believes both his expertise and a strong procurement team at QE facilities will be attractive to trusts looking from more support when going to market for new IT kit.

“I think the NHS doing it for itself is better than organisations doing it from the outside.”

Like NHS Supply Chain frameworks, the model will be based on suppliers paying a fee to QE Facilities when they successfully sell their product through the framework.

Burns said there were currently 13 “active opportunities” with trust interested in buying IT through the framework, including document management, e-prescribing and EPR products.

Ideally the framework business would generate income for the trust while at the same time making the acquisition of IT cheaper, he said.

“I would like to think so, in time; but we must, at all costs, cover our costs.”

Although the NHS is facing severe fiscal constraints, Burns said there was still plenty of activity in the market.

However, much of it is focused on expanding existing systems over a bigger footprint than in bringing in new ideas, in keeping with the nationwide drive for great regional service integration to save costs and improve care.

“I can see next year being quite a busy one when it comes to building procurement.”

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