NHS signs nationwide £20m deal for ‘electronic infection control’ systems

Systems delivered by US healthcare giant is intended to help trusts replace patchwork of paper documents and spreadsheets

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The NHS has signed a £20m deal to enable health-service organisations to deploy technology to help better manage the spread of infections.

The contract – awarded to US-based healthcare giant Baxter – is intended to offer NHS trusts a means through which they can buy a comprehensive infection-control platform. According to newly published commercial information such a system would, in many cases, replace various specialist software programs used by NHS trusts to collect and process data, alongside spreadsheets and paper documents.

“Covid-19 has highlighted the gap in their processes and how ineffective the current systems – if they use one – are,” the contract notice said.

A deal between Baxter and the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust – which led the procurement on behalf of the wider health service – came into effect on 1 February. The contract runs for an initial term of two years, plus two further potential one-year extensions.

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During that time, the supplier will be tasked with providing the NHS “an electronic infection control clinical surveillance system” that can be used by NHS trusts and other health-service bodies to replace existing arrangements.

“The system will support infection prevention and control activities to identify critical issues, proactively respond to improve the quality of care and streamline processes to reduce time spent on administrative and reporting tasks,” the contract notice said.  “Most NHS Trusts tend to manage infection control surveillance through the use of various systems, collating laboratory, patient and surgery data and manually searching through the data to identify patients of interest or complex scenarios. Paper and excel spreadsheets are also used to record and manage surveillance. This process is time consuming and risk of error.  NHS trusts are finding that they do not have a robust infection control system to monitor and manage their patients.”

Headquartered in Illinois, Baxter posted sales of more than $15bn (£12.5bn) in 2022. The firm operates from 13 locations in the UK and its website claims that the company is “one of the largest suppliers to the NHS, with over 7,500 products and services”. 

Sam Trendall

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