CSC, the main supplier of the National Programme for IT, is considering offering alternative software to NHS trusts ahead of the clinical functionality being planned for its "Lorenzo" system.
The change of plan will surprise board directors at NHS trusts in the West Midlands and North and East of England who have been waiting for several years for the Lorenzo Care Records Service system from CSC.
If CSC decides to offer the "Alert" system from a Portuguese healthcare specialist, it could mean that dozens of boards of NHS trusts alter plans dating back years which have been based on the roll-out of Lorenzo.
But it is unclear how quickly the Alert system could be adapted to the UK market - and in particular how quickly it can be subsumed into the plans of NHS Connecting for Health, which runs much of the NPfIT, for integrated healthcare systems.
Lorenzo was originally expected to be available in 2004. And it has proved difficult to adapt the US "Cerner" system - which is being offered to NHS trusts in London and the south of England - for use in NHS trusts.