ambitious shared EPR procurement for four NHS trusts ended

One of the largest shared EPR procurements, covering four NHS trusts in Blackpool, Lancashire and South Cumbria, has been abandoned at the eleventh hour without selecting a supplier or awarding a contract.

Digital Health News can exclusively reveal that the procurement has been ended mid-evaluation after the trusts involved failed to agree on the conclusion of the EPR procurement and the unofficial preferred supplier failing to submit a compliant bid.

A spokesperson said that it became apparent that the requirements they had issued for the procurement did not cover the scope of functionality actually needed.

The four-trust EPR procurement was led by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on behalf of itself, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust

Gary Doherty, director of strategy and planning for Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and senior responsible officer for the acute EPR programme for Lancashire and South Cumbria, said: “The partnership has been working together to procure a single shared EPR system but following further consideration and discussions with trust digital teams and advice from our local procurement team, legal advisors and EPR procurement specialists, the existing procurement has been closed without a supplier being appointed.

Sources close to the procurement suggest that the acute EPR programme for Lancashire and South Cumbria may have been closed, in part, because the scoring of bids was pointing to a supplier selection that would have been extremely difficult for some of the trusts involved.

Unconfirmed sources suggest that, unofficially, the preferred ICS supplier was Oracle, but they submitted a non-compliant bid, with Nervecentre thought to have scored up to the point the procurement was ended.

East Lancs went live with Oracle just eight months ago, making it extremely unlikely they would want to switch out EPRs.

At least six bidders thought to have taken part

As well as Oracle and Nervecentre, Digital Health News understands IMS Maxims, Alcidion, Daedalus and Altera bid as well and are likely to be smarting from the costs of taking part in the abandoned procurement.

A spokesperson for the trust confirmed to Digital Health News that the EPR procurement had been ended, without a preferred bidder being selected: “The procurement for a single shared acute electronic patient record (EPR) system has been closed without a supplier being appointed. The process was closed prior to the conclusion of the evaluation stage.”

Asked why the procurement had been suspended the spokesperson said: “The decision not to proceed with the existing procurement has been made while we carry out a detailed strategic assessment of our requirements for a single ICS acute EPR.”

They continued: “During the evaluation of tenders, it became apparent that the requirements described in the Invitation To Tender, and associated draft EPR contract, did not fully detail the scope of EPR functionality that we are looking to put in place and consequently, the evaluation criteria in the ITT would not enable the organisations to correctly identify the most economically advantageous solution capable of meeting those needs.”

A January Blackpool trust board paper refers to supplier demonstrations due to take place in January.

East Lancashire only went live with Oracle in June 2023, while Morecombe Bay is an old legacy Lorenzo EPR site. Lancashire Teaching Hospital meanwhile uses an EPR from Harris Health, Blackpool is one of the few NHS hospital trusts still lacking a modern EPR.

Steve Christian, deputy chief executive at Blackpool and lead for the digital transformation programme at the Trust, said at the time: “Reducing the number of different systems we use is a key part of the Trust’s new digital plan.”

As a first step the trust Blackpool plans to go live with a new Patient Administration System, with go-live now scheduled for April 2024.

The spokesperson acknowledged that ending the joint procurement “will have an impact in delivering the longer-term vision to consolidate into one single system across Lancashire and South Cumbria in the future”, but said will not impact day-to-day running of hospital services.

“Trusts have taken and will take steps to mitigate the impact of delaying putting a new single system in place.”

Doherty concluded: “The aim is to now review the existing specification and requirements and then launch a new procurement process.”

While the Blackpool and Lancashire South Cumbria EPR procurement is especially ambitious, NHS Trusts have increasingly looked to joint EPR procurement in the past year. In December, University Hospitals of Derby and Burton and Chesterfield Royal Hospital selected Nervecentre as the preferred supplier for a new joint EPR system, while Guys’ and St. Thomas’ and King’s College Hospital NHS Trusts finally went live with the delayed launch of a joint Epic EPR system in October.

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This post originally appeared on TechToday.