The NHS National Project for IT (NPfIT) has contracted analyst Gartner for support in identifying appropriate IT suppliers and achieving best practice.
The move aims to give the NPfIT a wider view of the supplier network in the UK and could open up opportunities for firms not directly involved in the £6bn project.
NPfIT already has a contract with consultancy firm Ovum, which provides liaison services with suppliers. According to a NPfIT representative, the deal with Gartner will give the project organisers access to research on relevant IT issues, including the supplier market and best practice.
Gordon Head, European healthcare business development manager at Gartner, said potential suppliers "will not be bound by the major service provider contract winners already in place".
The NpfIT's desire to work with SME IT providers and the channel's extensive coverage of regional trusts are likely to benefit many VARs.
Last year a project representative told CRN: "There is recognition that much of the activity and systems will come from SMEs, and the National Programme, through its Industry Liaison team, is providing advice as to how SMEs should engage with contracted suppliers."
Steve Reynolds, managing director services at integrator Civica, said: "Business in the NHS as a whole is growing as a result of the NPfIT."
He added that support from Gartner and Ovum will improve supply-chain management.
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