Business, diagnostic imaging  

England's NHS Connecting for Health  completes final contract for PACS

7 September 2005

NHS Connecting for Health, the agency running England's National Programme for IT (NPfIT), announced today that it has agreed the final arrangements that will see picture archiving and communications Systems (PACS) rolled out across England' National Health Service.

Accenture, the company given the contract for rolling out the project in the North East and East of England regions, has contracted with Agfa and HSS for the supply of PACS and Radiology Information System (RIS) technology respectively.

Similar agreements are already in place with NHS Connecting for Health’s other three Local Service Providers (see below). The contractual arrangements had been delayed by an unsuccessful bidder, Fuji, which failed in its challenge to the procurement process in the courts.

Today’s announcement means that, in time, nearly all images used in the NHS in England will be stored and transmitted and viewed digitally.

NHS Connecting for Health says it has already delivered PACS to three NHS trusts and nearly 150,000 digital images are already being stored.
Dr Robin Kantor, Consultant Radiologist at the Hillingdon and Mount Vernon Hospitals Trust, which has recently implemented NHS Connecting for Health PACS said: "We operate on two sites, which are eight miles apart. One of the greatest benefits of PACS for us as clinicians is that we are now able to instantly access images from either site, regardless of where we are. This has meant that I can report on images taken at the Hillingdon site, even when I’m at Mt Vernon.

Richard Granger, Director General of NHS IT said: “I was disappointed that delay was inflicted on the NHS and our patients by the failed legal challenge. But I was delighted that the judge held that there had been a correct and high quality procurement process. Today we have completed the contractual jigsaw and I look forward to driving implementation so that PACS becomes ubiquitous in English hospitals and the benefits are made real.”

Agfa originally lost out on the contracts when they were first awarded, despite being the major supplier of PACS systems to UK hospitals at the time. It is ironic that it now has two of the five regions and has a share of contracts which, according to Computing (7 Sept, 2005), are worth £235 million. Agfa replaced GE Medical in the two regions a year ago, with no explanation from NPfIT, which hid behind the excuse of commercial confidentiality — the lack of openness has been a general complaint among suppliers. All the contract winners have been effectively gagged by the project and those who have not won do not dare criticise the project openly for fear of damaging future business prospects.

The PACS contracts in the five regions of England's National Programme for IT are:

  • London — Phillips and Isoft subcontractors to BT
  • Southern — GE and HSS subcontractors to Fujitsu;
  • North West and West Midlands — ComMedica and Kodak sub-contractor to CSC
  • Eastern — Agfa and HSS subcontractors to Accenture
  • North East — Agfa and HSS subcontractors to Accenture.

The NHS trusts already with PACS under NHS Connecting for Health are:

  • Hillingdon Hospital NHS Trust
  • West Dorset Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Salisbury Health Care NHS Trust.

For more information on NHS Connecting for Health see:

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