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NHS 24 delays IT system go-live again

NHS 24 won’t attempt a second go-live of its £117m IT system in June after discovering further technical problems, but still plans to deploy the system in summer 2016

After a disastrous go-live attempt in November 2015, which saw NHS 24’s IT system withdrawn from service, a go-live was planned for June 2016. However, this has now been delayed.

When the system went live in November 2015, NHS 24 was forced to take the system offline on grounds of patient safety. It admitted that staff had not been trained properly on how to use the system.

A “lessons learned” report presented to NHS 24’s board in January 2016 proposed a go-live date of 14 June. However, the special health board said in a statement that this was “dependent on full technical assurance, as well as an assessment of staff readiness”.

“A technical issue recently highlighted by suppliers, combined with staff feedback, means we must take the appropriate time to get this right,” said NHS 24.

According to the Herald Scotland, the issue is related to “how the internet browser operates to support the system”.

Costs of the health board’s Future Programme – which aims to improve patient service, supported by modernised phone and online technology –had risen by 55% by January 2016, racking up a total bill of £117.4m.

Originally, the system was due to go live in 2013, but was then pushed back to October 2013. It was then put on hold indefinitely after it failed to “meet critical patient safety performance measures”, according to an Audit Scotland Report published in 2015.

Read more about NHS 24’s Future Programme

Capgemini is supplying the applications for the new IT system, while BT supplies the hardware and infrastructure.

The original delay caused a legal dispute between Capgemini and NHS 24 that nearly terminated the deal and made it obvious there were flaws in the contract.

In its “lessons learned” report, NHS 24 admitted the programme had been a systemic failure and that costs are increasing even further.

“Current planning assumptions are that costs could increase by as much as £7.6m. The main reason for the increase relates to additional double running costs and the costs associated with preparing for the relaunch in 2016,” the NHS 24 document said.

NHS 24 also previously admitted the “original business case was inadequate, the programme governance ineffective, commercial management weak, too much reliance was put on suppliers’ promises, and the organisation had insufficient understanding of call centre system implementation to successfully launch.”

Although the system won’t be going live in June, NHS 24 said it is still on track to deploy the technology during summer 2016.

“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,” added NHS 24. 

Read more on Healthcare and NHS IT

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