- Fotolia

NHS 24 IT system delayed until December 2017

NHS 24’s troubled IT system won’t be fully rolled out until December 2017 as the projected costs of the programme spiral to 73% over budget

NHS 24’s plan for a replacement IT system has once again been revised, and will now be deployed in stages with the final roll-out not complete until December 2017.

Costs have also spiraled out of control for the system, which was due to go live in 2013. A report by Audit Scotland said the project was originally estimated to cost £75.8m and generate savings of £10m over 10 years, however the total cost is now estimated to be £131.2m – a whopping 73% over the original budget. 

The report said every month the system “is not operational, NHS 24 incurs around £0.5m in additional costs”.

The system was due to go live in early 2013 as part of NHS 24’s Future Programme, which aimed to improve patient service, 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 another Audit Scotland Report published in 2015.

The 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.

Two years behind schedule, NHS 24 went live with a new IT system from Capgemini in early November 2015. However, after experiencing problems, it decided to withdraw the system and revert to old processes on the grounds of patient safety.

Another go-live was planned for June 2016, but the Scottish special health board decided in May to further delay the deployment until later in summer 2016.

However, according to the latest Audit Scotland report, NHS 24 has decided to go for a staged implementation of the system, not due to be fully completed until December 2017.

Read more about NHS 24’s IT system

“NHS 24 previously attempted full implementation of the new system on a national basis, to avoid any potential problems of return callers who may access the service across different geographical boundaries,” the report said.

“However, NHS boards had expressed concern about this approach. NHS 24 has since done further work to assess the scale of this potential problem and has now determined that it is possible to introduce the new IT system through a single health board for a period of time.”

The first stage of the implementation process will be planned care services in autumn 2016, followed by unscheduled care services in a single NHS board by March 2017, and a full roll out of unscheduled care services by December 2017.

In its “lessons learned” report published earlier in 2016, NHS 24 admitted the programme had been a systemic failure.  

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.”

Read more on Healthcare and NHS IT