Resellers have 37 days to register their interest in supplying the NHS following news that IT suppliers of all sizes will have a role to play in the NHS's imminent IT investment.
NHS IT tsar Richard Granger has outlined plans for a consortia model to be applied to the department's planned £5bn IT restructure.
This means that smaller niche resellers will have to partner with larger systems integrators such as EDS and IBM. A tender has been issued today [Monday, 10 February].
An NHS spokesman said: "Suppliers will have 37 days to register an interest and from that the department will go into a negotiation phase when [companies] that are chosen will be given specifications."
Spending on IT in the NHS, currently £1.1bn annually, is set to rise by £400m this year, £700m next year and £1.2bn in 2005.
The NHS will be inundated with responses according to John Griffiths, consulting director at reseller Compusys.
"Resellers will crawl all over the OJEC notice, which are sometimes quite cryptic. The first challenge will be to work out what the NHS wants."
He said one of key requirement that the NHS will look for is resellers with experience selling to the government sector. "Although it won't exclude others," he added.
Dave Cheeseman, director of special projects and operations at healthcare specialist reseller WCI, confirmed that his company will be registering an interest.
"This is exciting news for the channel because it positions it in the overall procurement and removes the uncertainty around the relationship small resellers will have with the big players such as IBM Global Services," he said.
Cheeseman explained that WCI is bolstering its products and skills portfolio through acquisition to pitch for contracts as government authorities move towards the 2005 deadline for making services available online set by Prime Minister Tony Blair.
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