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NHS trust: Not buying through NHS IT saved us £7m

Patient record database bargain

A direct tender has enabled Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS foundation trust to purchase a patient records system at a cost more than £7m below the price paid by the Department of Health (DH).

"We set a capped limit for cost and we introduced this rate at the start of the project," Jane Berenzynskyj, Caerus project manager, at the trust told Government Computing.

"We were expecting any suppliers to adhere to that cap limit, and I know that it is quite a bit less than if it was purchased through the National Programme for IT (NPfIT), but I guess that is one of the advantages of going for a direct tender."

The trust paid £1.8m to supplier CSE Healthcare Systems for the Rio patient records system. It signed the contract on 2 July for six years, with a possible two year extension.

Campaign4Change has reported that BT's contract with the DH under NPfIT cost £224.3m for 25 deployments of the same system, or about £9m each.

The DH was asked to comment about huge difference in price, but declined to do so.

The deal struck by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough was led by Berenzynskyj who worked with an internal project team, which liaised with the operational areas of the trust. The deal also was supported by an external procurement project adviser from the East of England Collaborative Procurement Hub.

Berenzynskyj said that the trust was part of NPfIT and due to take Lorenzo. But it withdrew from the programme and then spent 3-4 months examining the informatics market for a patient records system.

"We used an existing government framework which gave us indicative costs and timelines, and then made the procurement through OJEU," said Berenzynskyj.

She attributed the success of the procurement to having the right expertise and information, but says that there is a lack of information about procurement across the health service.

"When I started the process I talked to people in the supplier community and the NHS to find out about the best price, but there is no national specification on which to base the selection process," she said.

"There is a paucity of information about what a reasonable price is, the best procurement mechanism, or what the specification should look like."

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough's purchase of the patient records system was made as part of its wider electronic clinical information programme, named Caerus after the Greek god of opportunity.

According to Berenzynskyj, the next substantial project as part of Caerus will be medicine management. In addition, an internal research and development team is working with Cambridge university to build a research case register, and the trust's board is to consider a strategy for information sharing and integration.

This article was originally published at Government Computing.

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