The NHS IT tsar has assigned industry body Intellect with the task of coordinating an industry view on IT strategy for the health service.
Richard Granger, the new director general of NHS IT, has asked Intellect to build a representative consultation group for the health service's IT suppliers.
More than 220 Intellect member companies work in the healthcare sector, and between them they are responsible for over 75 per cent of installed NHS systems.
The group will discuss all aspects of the national programme for IT in the NHS, including procurement processes.
Intellect director general John Higgins said the forum would encourage debate and provide a communications channel between IT suppliers and the NHS. "There's a lot to do from both supplier community and NHS in a short space of time," he said.
"We can streamline communications. Over the course of the coming months there will be a number of issues that the NHS will want to raise with the supplier community."
The dialogue between the goverment and industry would help set the agenda for NHS modernisation, Higgins added.
"The national programme for IT represents a huge challenge for the supplier community and this is a very positive step by Richard Granger in seeking to engage with industry," he said.
The consultation exercise will begin 13 February, with a series of meetings with stakeholders.
The forum will provide a focus for discussing a wide range of IT-related issues, said Laurence Harrison, Intellect's healthcare programme manager.
"It's more than just procurement. Suppliers can deliver the technology, but it's the users that make it a success. We want to create a partnership between NHS and suppliers," he said.
The group can provide project management skills, Harrison added, and improve suppliers' understanding of the NHS structure and methods of working.
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