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NHS 24’s computer system crashes on launch

NHS 24’s IT system crashed the day it went live following two years of delays and a 55% increase in costs

NHS 24’s £117m IT system experienced technical difficulties only hours after going live yesterday (28 October 2015).

Staff at the special Scottish health board, which delivers online and telephone advice services, had to resort to pen and paper as the system failed, reported the BBC.

Computer Weekly recently reported on an Audit Scotland report that revealed the replacement IT system was years behind schedule and costs had spiralled to £41.6m over budget.

Capgemini delivers the applications for the system while BT supplies the hardware and infrastructure, as part of NHS 24's Future Programme, which aimed to improve patient service, supported by modernised phone and online technology.

An NHS 24 spokesperson said in a statement that the system worked well during the day and that “several hundred calls were managed smoothly” but close monitoring, as it moved into “the busier out of hours period, alerted us to concerns over IT system stability and we took a proactive decision to roll back to the existing technology platform”.

There is currently no new go-live date set for the system, but NHS 24 said it is aiming to have a “new solution in place and to have our technology platform fully operational as soon as possible”, but that it will only implement it when it’s sure it’s safe to do so.

The system was originally due to go live in June 2013, but was pushed back to October 2013 before being put on hold indefinitely after it failed “meet critical patient safety performance measures”, according to the Audit Scotland report.

Computer Weekly recently reported that this led to a dispute between Capgemini and NHS 24, where it became obvious there were flaws in the contract, “including the performance measures specified in the tender negotiation documents not appearing in the final contract agreement”.

The programme was originally due to cost £75.8m and generate savings of £10m over 10 years. However, after a two-year delay, costs have risen by 55% – racking up a total bill of £117.4m, according to the report from the Auditor General for Scotland.

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