NHS Supply Chain has completed the tender process for a national framework for picture archiving and communications and radiology information systems.
Dave Burns, senior buyer for NHS Supply Chain, told eHealth Insider that suppliers had been chosen for all eight lots on the framework, and the organisation is drawing up launch materials while completing contracts with suppliers.
However, he said trusts that are interested in using the contract as the national PACS/RIS contracts wind down can contact him now for more details.
The contracts placed by the National Programme for IT in the NHS come to an end in 2013 across much of England and 2014 in London.
The Department of Health has signed an extension with Accenture to continue providing a central data store and PACS/RIS to the North, Midlands and East of England until June 2016.
In other areas, trusts have been going out to tender, either on their own or in wider consortiums.
The framework will give them another option, and Burns stressed that it has been set up to give trusts flexibility about the timescale over which they want to work and the approach they want to take.
So, trusts have the option to contract for software licences that will run over their existing hardware, contract for both software and hardware, or move to a fully managed service.
“A lot of trusts have a single product, and they are used to that,” Burns said. “But we are encouraging trusts to review what is available, because PACS/RIS has changed a lot since the early days of the national programme.
“If trusts do not ready to do that now, they can take a tactical approach, and then conduct a more detailed assessment over the longer term.”
Similarly, trusts should be able to adopt a ‘best of breed’ approach, by picking from all eight lots on the contract – PACS, RIS, work stations, vendor neutral archiving, data migration, off-site storage, CR and transcription services.
Or they can adopt a ‘single supplier’ approach, by picking a system with the ‘accessories’ necessary to run it.
“At the start of the process, we sought the opinion of NHS bodies and IT directors about what they wanted to see,” Burns said.
“There were two levels of interest. Some trusts wanted to manage their contracts and pursue a best of breed approach, by picking from the individual lots.
“Other trusts – which tended to be the smaller trusts – would not be able to manage those relationships, and wanted a solution from a single PACS vendor.”
To support the framework, NHS Supply Chain has worked with law firm Beechcroft to create new contract paperwork that has also been reviewed by the Department of Health.
The framework will last for four years, and be worth between £171m and £363m. Although the framework will expire in 2016, trusts will be able to sign longer contracts if they use it; managed service contracts, for example, typically run for seven years.
Burns said this should stop trusts all being in the PACS/RIS market again in a few years’ time. “I’m not sure I’d want to go through all this again, and I don’t think IT directors would, either,” he said.
© 2012 EHealth Media.
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