The multi-billion pound National Programme for IT has begun to draw up a list of alternative IT software providers in the wake of iSoft's continuing troubles.

The Connecting for Health programme to modernise and centralise National Health Service (NHS) IT has taken steps to offset the ongoing worries about the viability of its main software contractor, iSoft reported the UK newspaper, The Guardian.

Richard Granger, head of Connecting for Health had first said such a list existed when the financial troubles of iSoft came to light last October. But at the time he said it was to be used only as a back up if contingencies were needed.

Now it is thought the NHS Trusts are growing impatient to learn the fate of outstanding software upgrades to iSoft’s Lorenzo clinical records system, after it had to restate its last annual accounts. It is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Services Authority, and has also recently been subject of takeover rumours.

The software was due to be introduced from May 2004, and many Trust NPfIT schedules have been delayed as a result of the stalled roll out.

The Guardian said one of the main contenders to take over iSoft’s role is another existing US supplier, Cerner. But Trusts have also reportedly experienced difficulties in adapting its patient administration system to UK procedures.