The NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency has signed a three-year deal with Civica to implement Microsoft's Enterprise Agreement in England. The contract is worth £19.4m over the next 12 months.
The deal will enable the implementation of the NHS-wide licensing agreement signed with Microsoft last year, which is designed to standardise and upgrade technology on up to 500,000 desktops.
Steve Reynolds, managing director at Civica Services, said the contract would allow NHS organisations to upgrade their desktops without having to go through a complex tendering process. It will also offer good economies of scale and ease deployment issues, he said.
Judith Jordan, an analyst at Ovum Holway, said Microsoft's change in licensing last year left the NHS little choice but to adopt the software giant's Enterprise Agreement.
She warned that real cost savings would be dependent on all NHS organisations using the preferred supplier, rather than reaching their own deal with local suppliers, and ensuring that the new desktops are actually used.
"NHS organisations have to ask themselves whether they are seriously going to use the upgrades, and they have to stop people buying extra licences from resellers not covered by the Enterprise Agreement," she said.
The NHS agreement applies to health authorities, teaching hospitals, primary care trusts, acute, community and mental health trusts.
It covers upgrades to the operating systems installed on desktops as well as full copies of Microsoft Office and Microsoft Client Licence.