Resellers working in the health sector face an uncertain future as a result of imminent changes to the way NHS buys IT equipment.
Since the appointment of Richard Granger as director general of NHS IT, to revamp the use of technology in the health service, healthcare resellers have been bracing themselves for changes to procurement methods.
One expected change is the appointment of a smaller number of IT suppliers.
Details of the new plan are expected this month. This follows Granger's statement in December, when he said "it is obvious that one of the main concerns is the need to streamline the whole process, and this will happen".
David Cheesman, director of special projects and operations at healthcare reseller WCI, explained that contracts are currently tough to win because of the uncertainty about the coming changes.
"Getting IT implementations approved is tough at the moment because of imminent changes and the introduction of a small number of preferred suppliers," he said.
"The NHS needs to use the skills of the industry so it is to name 'prime contractors' to take over responsibility for procuring IT."
This means there will be a new group of people to deal with as well as new methods of funding, which is causing uncertainty, Cheesman added.
But in spite of this, reseller Civica is continuing its public sector success through the government's IT buying catalogue (GCat), with the announcement of a £19.4m Microsoft Enterprise software licensing deal with the NHS.
Steve Reynolds, managing director at Civica, recognised that his company had benefited from the GCat scheme.
"This is our second year in GCat and last year we won about £25m of business," he said. "This year we have already won £19.4m."
But he had a warning about the role of smaller resellers. "The government is changing its strategy on health and it is bidding for about five big IT suppliers," he said.
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