NHS trusts across the south of England will receive funding for alternative patient systems to those mandated under the £12.7 billion National Programme for IT, it has been confirmed.
Until now, it had been unclear whether hospitals choosing alternative systems would receive any financial support from the programme.
This will act as test for trusts in the rest of the country, where if BT and CSC do not meet a tough November deadline for a workable patient system, the whole programme may be redesigned.
The decision comes amid mounting problems for the programme. Angry patients this month told Computerworld UK they had been informed of a potential threat to their ongoing care if they declined to take an electronic summary care record.
Last week, the government’s own Gateway reviews into the first five years of the programme were published, revealing a lack of stakeholder trust in the programme’s suppliers, and serious questions over whether the programme would ever deliver value for money.
Trusts in the south will now be funded for their choice of system from the existing NHS programme budget. They will be able to choose from the additional suppliers in the NHS national programme framework, which include Atos Origin, Logica, Siemens, Perot Systems, Tata Consultancy Services and Agfa Healthcare.
The southern trusts were originally set to implement the Cerner Millennium software, but early Cerner rollouts by BT in London resulted in serious difficulties.
Aside from patient administration systems, a choice will also be allowed over alternative electronic prescription systems, test diagnostic systems, and bed and operating theatre scheduling systems.