Community health trusts in the South of England are being offered an alternative to the Additional Supply Capability and Capacity procurement that collapsed last month.
But they are nervous about putting their confidence in a process that could leave them empty-handed yet again.
IT directors in the region who spoke to eHealth Insider expressed deep disappointment that no regional ASCC contract will be awarded despite two years of effort.
Some are looking at independent procurements, while others hold out hope of getting a centrally funded solution.
EHI exclusively reported last month that the ASCC community and child health system procurement - which would have seen CSC deploy TPP's SystmOne in 17 organisations - had been abandoned.
Multiple trust mergers and local procurements mean that just eight “community organisations” remain out of that 17, and they now face an uncertain future with some on unsupported platforms.
The Department of Health told EHI that it had begun exploring an “alternative procurement process” and was working on this with the organisations involved.
“As per ASCC, the process would be trust-led and the intention remains that contracts would be held locally and centrally funded,” a DH spokeswoman said.
EHI understands the same NHS team that was driving the ASCC procurement is now leading a more traditional Southern procurement.
Weekly sessions are being held to reconfirm the requirements which are likely to be expanded to include social care.
Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust director of health informatics and ICT services Simon Goodwin said there was a lot of uncertainty going into the new procurement.
Plan A was to stick with the revised Southern process, but a plan B – looking at local options - also had to be put in place.
“It’s not so much funding,” he said. “By having in place a community electronic patient record system there are huge benefits to be had, it’s more important than who pays, it’s actually having certainty.”
TPP’s SystmOne had been fully evaluated by local clinicians who felt it met all their requirements and “absolutely wanted it”, Goodwin said.
In a statement, TPP said: "We are aware that the need for SystmOne is still there, and of course, it’s frustrating for us that there are clinicians who haven’t been provided with a system that they decided was fit for purpose.
"But we are currently in communications with senior IT staff from various trusts in the South and are attempting to find a way to progress in order to benefit them and meet their needs."
Plymouth Community Healthcare IT strategy lead Rob Austin said the organisation planned to remain in the centrally funded contract process “for the moment”.
“That’s a financial decision because they are still assuming that the system will come with no cost to the provider services,” he said. “If that’s wrong then they would potentially have a very different opinion.”
Sussex Health Informatics Service ran a parallel procurement alongside ASCC. The community trusts it serves now have to decide whether to go out on their own or wait in hope for a government-funded system.
One IT director said the whole process had been “very damaging” as it essentially left Trusts “treading water” for two years when they could have been pursuing their own procurements.
Read more about the latest for ASCC in the South in the Insight section.
© 2011 EHealth Media.
Register: To add a comment you must be registered.