Centralised procurement will save NHS £4bn

The NHS in England will save £3.8bn in IT procurement over 10 years through central purchasing of core systems and services, according to Connecting for Health, the body running the National Programme for IT in the NHS.

The NHS in England will save £3.8bn in IT procurement over 10 years through central purchasing of core systems and services, according to Connecting for Health, the body running the National Programme for IT in the NHS.

Other supplier arrangements would produce procurement savings of around £150m, Connecting for Health said in its annual report published this week

Six organisation-wide arrangements with Cisco, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, SeeBeyond, Sun Microsystems and TATA Consultancy Services were announced in August 2004. Additional arrangements with Documentum, Health Language and Oracle followed later in the year.

Last November, Connecting for Health signed a licensing deal with Microsoft that it said would save the NHS £330m over nine years.

Director general for NHS IT Richard Granger said the programme had made a great deal of progress on implementing electronic health records, transfer of prescriptions, bookings and imaging as well as a network upgrade.

“Even though we are only two years into this massive undertaking, we estimate that over two million people – patients, doctors and other NHS professionals – have already been helped by new systems delivered by the National Programme for IT.”

The annual report also described progress in other areas of the NPfIT. By 31 May, the new national network (N3) was supporting around 350,000 people working in the NHS in England . More than 30,000 clinicians are registered users of the NHS Care Records Service data spine, almost 3,500 of them general practitioners.

More than 124,000 NHS employees are registered with Contact, the secure e-mail and directory service for the NHS, and between 1 January and 31 May 2005 more than 50 million e-mails were sent and received on the system.

The report also emphasises the need to work with clinicians.

“The National Programme has achieved a great deal so far, but to make it truly work we have to deliver hearts, minds and usage. Staff must use it on the ground and use it creatively, instructively and imaginatively. We’ve got to get end-users feeling and believing that this is going to improve their working lives,” said Alan Burns, who has stood down as service implementation director since the annual report was compiled.

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