NHS IT tsar Richard Granger has reduced to 31 the shortlist of 99 IT suppliers to move to the next stage of negotiations to supply the NHS with products and services as part the £5bn National Programme for IT.
The group selected to go forward includes vendors, suppliers and service providers that have made independent bids or formed consortia to win Preliminary Invitations to Negotiate.
Successful bidders will be grouped into five regional service providers to supply five regional Strategic Health Authorities.
But suppliers that have not been selected "will not be denied opportunities for future involvement" as subcontractors, said the NHS.
Granger said in a statement that the quality of the proposals "provides confidence that at the end of the competition the successful bidders will be capable of meeting the stringent quality and competency requirements of this programme."
The chosen group includes 11 consortia, blending manufacturing, development and services expertise to form giant service providers. One such consortium sees vendors Dell and Microsoft link up with service providers such as EDS.
Gordon Davies, commercial director at reseller Compusys, which provides IT to the health industry, said the company would be bidding to work with a number of consortia as subcontractors.
He said the 31 suppliers selected came as no surprise. "What comes across is that it is the normal suspects, and if the aim was to change how the government buys IT I think they are not there yet.
"Government procurement is littered with consortia that have failed to deliver, and problems arise when it is difficult to pinpoint who takes responsibility," he warned.
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