NHS IT programme 'maintains progress' but concerns continue

NHS IT chief Richard Granger has formally confirmed that 30 individual companies and consortia will be on the "long list" to be...

NHS IT chief Richard Granger has formally confirmed that 30 individual companies and consortia will be on the "long list" to be Local Service Providers and National Application Service Providers.

Granger's team have reduced the number of potential candidates for a share in the £2.3bn NHS IT modernisation by just one from the 31 companies listed in the pre-qualification phase of the procurement process announced last month.

The National IT programme team have also delivered the initial Output Based Specification for phase one of the Integrated Care Record Service (ICRS), to potential suppliers.

The initial spec for the ICRS, an electronic patient record system, runs to the 500 pages and "is not for general information". The document is also "work in progress", according to the national programme team.

Murray Bywater, managing director of health IT analyst Silicon Bridge, said this approach raised issues of value for money.

"Any supplier making a fixed-price bid for the contract is going to have to build in a considerable number of safety margins."

Bywater also said that users and suppliers of existing electronic patient records systems could be concerned that they were not being given access to vital information.

In a series of other announcements the national IT programme team confirmed the geographical boundaries of the five local service providers that will cover England.

They are:

  • London,
  • North East, Yorkshire and Humberside
  • South East and South West
  • East of England and East Midlands
  • West Midlands and North West

Outside London each LSP will cover two local government regions and the first two contracts will be awarded by the end of October 2003 to London and North East, Yorkshire and Humberside.

A short list of three has been drawn up for the NHS e-booking project with the final contract set to be awarded in September.

The national programme team has issued a formal contract notice for a National Infrastructure Service Provider to deliver a broadband service across the NHS.

A single organisation will be awarded the contract and charged with purchasing and integrating local and national services across the UK.

There was no update on proposals for electronic delivery of prescriptions, one of the key national infrastructure projects.

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