• Sectra named preferred supplier for major radiology contract in Greater Manchester
  • Likely to be one of the largest imaging contracts in England

A Swedish company has been named preferred supplier for a major radiology contract, spanning eight NHS trusts in the North West, HSJ has learned.

The trusts in Greater Manchester have chosen Sectra to provide a “picture archiving and communications system”, through which medical images such as X-rays and scans can be stored and sent.

The new system will incorporate a “vendor neutral archive”, which enables images to be shared more easily.

The value of the contract, which was advertised through an IT clinical framework, has yet to be confirmed. It is expected to last up to 10 years.

The providers currently use a PACS supplied by GE Healthcare, which is a legacy of the National Programme for IT.

The NPfIT, launched in 2006, allowed trusts across England to eliminate the use of film and chemicals for conventional image processing, as well as the need to manage, transport and store physical images.

But the next generation of PACS is expected to enable more efficient sharing of electronic images and reports within and between organisations.

Greater Manchester started planning a joint procurement in 2016, with the region’s devolution team suggesting it could deliver efficiency savings of £3m per year. The aim was to award the contract in June 2018, but that timeline has proved to be overly ambitious.

There have been many smaller procurements of next generation PACS across England over the last few years, but the Greater Manchester contract is likely to be one of the largest.

Another large collaborative is East Midlands Radiology Consortium, which signed a 10-year contract with GE Healthcare in 2015, worth £30m. HSJ has previously revealed widespread concerns over the performance of the system, which spans seven organisations.

The East Midlands contract includes a “radiology information system”, a computer system which provides features such as appointment scheduling and business analysis, but this is not part of the Greater Manchester contract. The RIS for the Greater Manchester trusts is provided by HSS, now part of Mansfield-based Wellbeing Software.

A spokesman for the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, the region’s devolution team, told HSJ a formal announcement of the new contract holder is planned for 2020, once a full business case has been approved.

He added: “As the procurement was a collaborative procurement process involving many trusts, it has taken longer than anticipated to ensure that a robust process was undertaken, taking into consideration all trusts’ requirements and while ensuring value for money for Greater Manchester and its partners.”

The trusts involved are: Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust; Salford Royal Foundation Trust; Manchester University FT; Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care FT; Stockport FT; Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh FT; Bolton FT; and The Christie FT.