NHS IT system delayed again

Thursday 28th April 2016
NHS Scotland courtesy www.gov.scot

The launch of the new IT system at NHS 24 - already three years late and £50 million over budget, again runs into disorganised systems, adding technical difficulties. Don't hold your breath for the launch date yet!

NHS24, the health board which runs Scotland's national health helpline and website, awarded a the £100m contract to BT and Capgemini in 2012 for applications, infrastructure and managed services for voice and data. That contract is divided into two lots, the first  patient contact and triage management applications " key enablers for NHS 24 to provide timely, safe and efficient patient clinical assessment, advice and referral services." The second is for supporting applications, infrastructure and managed services.

The first tranche, awarded to BT, was worth £70m, the second, to Capgemini, the remaining £30m. The contract was expected to last 10 years, although NHS 24 has the option to break the deal after 7- years.  Scotland's ambulance service and other health boards could use the contract,  payment being made through NHS 24

Currently, the  Herald reports that a problem is causing computer screens to appear blank, with staff concerns over being  ill-equipped to use the new system, has forced a delay for the planned roll-out on June 14.

Dr Richard Simpson,  (left) former Labour MSP, questioned NHS 24 managers about the fiasco at  Holyrood’s public audit committee.  His comment being “The NHS executives were confident that the relaunch in June would be successful. This further delay adds more costs in the joint running of the old system. I still have no confidence that the Scottish Government has the capability of managing the development of major new IT systems.”

 “Future Programme” the new telecoms system for NHS 24 has been a dire operation from the start,  key elements being left out of the official contract; parties locked in legal action, (right) with Ian Crichton, who spent six months running NHS 24 after the previous CEO quit,  noting that every time problems emerged, the contract provided supplier protection, but not to the NHS.

An attempted November launch was cancelled  as time spent  with  patient callers  increased so much it raised safety fears. Training staff issues are also identified, with NHS 24 unwilling to attempt a launch until call handlers, nurses and other personnel are happy using the system.  The latest problem is believed to concern an  internet browser operation to support the system. Once this is resolved, time will be needed to test it again, before going live.  “We will not put the technology into service until the board have received guidance from expert advisors and the programme team on the most suitable date to launch.”


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