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Oscar Williams

News editor

The UK’s biggest NHS trust is poised to spend £400m on an electronic patient record system

The NHS’s biggest hospital trust has signalled its intention to spend up to £400m on an electronic patient record system, in one of the biggest tenders of its kind.

The tender notice, issued by Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), vows to create a “best in class” data management solution that will deliver “measurable clinical benefits” and an “extremely impressive return on investment”.

It forms part of a nationwide drive by NHS Digital to make the health service paperless by 2020. The unit is determined to rid hospitals of their dependence on outdated tech, promising that better use of data will grant patients greater control over their health, empower their carers, reduce the burden on medics and give rise to new treatments.

But it has a long way to go. Last year, researchers found that the health service was the world’s biggest buyer of fax machines and owned 10 per cent of its pagers.

“[The electronic patient record solution] will bring a number of benefits, including improving the patient experience, for example by reducing the need for patients to give the same information to different members of staff and reducing delays in accessing paper medical records,” a spokesperson for MFT told NS Tech.

The trust also hopes that the technology will improve patient safety by identifying medication errors and infection risks, and the quality of care by reducing unwarranted variation in treatments.

The price of implementing electronic patient record systems varies wildly between trusts, and is dependent on their size and complexity. While some are prepared to pay hundreds of millions, others are paying just a fraction of that cost. In March, for example, Leeds and York NHS trust committed to paying Careworks only £2.5m for such a system.

Commenting on the level of funding allocated to the patient data system, a spokesperson for MFT said it was now the largest trust in the UK. “It is responsible for running a family of nine hospitals across six separate sites, providing a wide range of services from comprehensive local general hospital care through to highly specialised regional and national services. A future EPR solution needs to meet the whole of the Trust’s specialist and complex needs.”

The contract lasts a decade, but the tender notice specifies that the trust is looking for the partnership to last for “the next 15 years or more”. Businesses have until 6 September to apply.