SMS looks likely to win a multi-million-pound hospital IT contract in the north of England following Siemens' withdrawal from the two-year tendering and procurement process. Royal Hull Hospital and East Yorkshire trusts had been working together in a project to replace their ageing ICL-designed IRC patient administration systems. Having originally short- listed Siemens Healthcare Systems and SMS to supply the replacement PAS, they opted for Siemens' Open-PAS, only for the supplier to announce that it was dropping the product in favour of its alternative CAMIS system. Attempts to re-negotiate a deal around this product failed, with the two sides unable to agree an acceptable price. Although the contract will probably go to alternative supplier SMS rather than be re-tendered, the collapse of the Siemens deal highlights the problems of the NHS's long- drawn-out procurement process, according to Royal Hull IT manager David Moks.

Siemens Healthcare has won its third private finance initiative contract, this time at the new Worcester Royal Infirmary. It is to supply a 'managed equipping service' for a 452-bed hospital to be built by the Catalyst healthcare consortium. The equipment contract - including a hospital-wide communications and archiving system for medical images - lasts for 30 years, though Siemens takes over the existing hospital's equipment in July.

The Medicines Control Agency has taken over management of the General Practice Research Database.

The GPRD is a giant file of epidemiological data on 8 million patients, collected from thousands of GPs by software company VAMP between 1987 and 1994, when Reuters bought VAMP and donated the data to the Department of Health. There are now 35 million patient years on the database.