The Director General of NHS IT has warned that big IT suppliers do not have the necessary skills to effectively deliver technology projects and he plans to introduce widesweeping changes to shake up the market.
Richard Granger, the new director general of NHS IT, believes the channel must change the way it operates if it is to win business from the NHS in future. He had been expected by many in the channel to name a small number of preferred suppliers which could take control of large sections of IT in the NHS.
But it now seems that more resellers could get a share of the work if suppliers form consortia to deliver technology on a regional basis.
In an interview with the Financial Times Granger said: "There won't be 28 [consortia] but I would be uncomfortable if we were down in the low digits - three or four."
A spokesman for the NHS refused to expand on Granger's comments, saying he would outline his plans in more detail in February.
Granger admitted to the newspaper that even the biggest IT companies lack the project management skills to deliver IT programmes on the scale that the NHS needs, while smaller suppliers lack the required capacity and financial strength.
Steve Reynolds, managing director of services at reseller Civica, explained that Granger's comments would be welcomed by the channel.
"Many people in the channel are quite worried about the expected changes," he said. "The consortia model could work because the large IT suppliers and the smaller ones both have their advantages."
According to Reynolds, big players can help by demonstrating the benefits of IT to the NHS. "The NHS knows its business needs but sometimes gets confused when talking to IT suppliers in IT speak. Big suppliers can bridge this gap," he said.
But innovative uses of IT would be more likely to come from smaller resellers, he added.
"The medium and small niche players have their ears to the ground and can cut to the chase if they see a piece of the jigsaw missing."
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