DEC systems integrator Plessey Periperal Systems Ltd of Towcester, Northamptonshire, has a UKP1m order from six of the largest Family Practitioner Committees in the UK as part of the UK Government’s Department of Health and Social Security drive to computerise the entire National Health Service. The systems, based on dual DEC PDP-11/84 processors, brings to 41 out of 65 the number of general practices computerised using Plessey kit, the remainder of the business having gone to DEC itself. Plessey Peripherals, set up in 1970 from parts of Plessey Memories and Plessey Microsystems, has a manufacturing base in Irvine, California which accounts for 50% of the Peripherals’ division UKP20m a year turnover, the rest coming from the UK office, which covers sales outside North America. The peripherals division in the UK, with 100 employees, does 50% of its business in the medical market and puts together sub-assemblies from the US – a Plessey system can include anything from 50% to 80% of other manufacturers’ kit, but Plessey supplies its own disk and tape controllers and core memory. The Family Practitioner systems, using Department of Health-written software, run under the MUMPS operating environment and are used as a central database of patients’ records that will eventually be linked to the National Health Service’s central register. The six most recent orders cover over 1m patients, with the Department particularly keen to use the machines to register cervical cancer tests. Another 33 practices are destined for computerisation by early 1988, and Plessey Peripherals, with 25 of the last 30 orders, is hoping to continue with its present 22% annual growth in turnover. The company says it will continue with full DEC-compatibility and has no plans to bring out its own version of the VAXBI, preferring to buy DEC’s range OEM, in addition to badging printers, tape and disk drives and subsystems from Fujitsu, Control Data, Emulex and Cifer.
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