Balfour Beatty public finance initiative (PFI) healthcare vehicle, Consort Healthcare has signed a 12-year, £20-million deal with communications integrator Affiniti.

The deal covers services to install and manage the lifecycle of the entire communications system for the new £553 million University Hospital in Birmingham (UHB).

The PFI contract will see Affiniti design, build and manage the system, and periodically refresh the technology. And the communications vendor was selected as the preferred technology provider by Consort Healthcare and UHB’s ICT Services department.

The five-phase project will hand control of the current Cisco and Siemens network over to the provider by the end of 2006. As the new hospital units are built, the deployment, maintenance and management all communications requirements will be covered by the deal. The infrastructure will underpin a broad range of services within the hospital, including internal and external communications, facilities management, medical equipment and clinical applications.

The communications service is part of a larger project, which sees the construction of the first new general hospital in Birmingham for 70 years. It is central to the reconfiguration of hospital services and the improvement of clinical facilities in the region.

Larry Rowe, UHB ICT services manager said: “The service will provide the new super hospital with the infrastructure and technology to ensure the Trust continues to deliver the highest quality of patient care, by supporting the very latest medical technologies and clinical practices. This will be the vehicle for UHB to deliver amongst other things the National Programme for IT NHS care record service systems, picture archiving and communications system, automatic capture of data from patient monitoring equipment, pharmacy and laboratory automation services.”

The UHB development will include a new acute hospital with 1,213 beds, a 108-bed specialist psychiatric hospital and teaching facility and a separate 32-bed mental health local facility. The first phase of the acute hospital will open in 2010, with the remainder of the new build acute facilities scheduled to come on stream in 2011.