News : Costs for Scotland's NHS 24 IT System to Go Up Yet Again
Glasgow, Scotland, Feb 8, 2016 -- Costs for Scotland's NHS 24 IT system, which has been fraught with problems since it was first announced, are to rise again.
The auditor general for Scotland found last year that the system was £41.6m over budget and more than two years behind schedule.
NHS 24 expressed regrets in a written submission to Scotland's Public Accounts Committee that the programme had yet to be delivered, and said that it "fully accepted responsibility for the organisational, financial and reputation risks that have been realised as a consequence".
The auditor general for Scotland said in October that costs had spiralled to £117.4m. NHS 24 said that the overrun of £41.6m was down to "double running costs" of £11.7m, additional implementation costs of £8m and an increase in design and contract costs of £21.9m.
But the overrun doesn't look like it will stop, as NHS 24 said that costs could increase again 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," NHS 24 said, blaming overall systematic failures around programme governance as the cause of delays and additional costs.
"None of the governance put in place by NHS 24 or the Scottish government has served to mitigate the substantial risks carried by this programme," it said.
NHS 24 added that it "underestimated the risk of developing an ambitious next-generation system and bringing it to market".
"Consequently, the original business case was inadequate, the programme governance ineffective, commercial management was weak, too much reliance was put on suppliers' promises and the organisation had insufficient understanding of call centre system implementation to successfully launch," it said.
NHS 24 added that Capgemini had failed to meet its commitment to supply a working solution in 2013, and that this "manifested these weaknesses".
"Not only have the different programme boards and committees failed to identify and manage the risks, the various audits and reviews have also proved ineffective in recovering the programme," it said. NHS 24 concluded by stating that it "apologised unreservedly for its failure to effectively implement the Future Programme".
However, NHS 24 has faith that it should try again because existing IT is "incapable of further development" to support services.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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NHS 24 is the name of a confidential health advice and information service provided by NHS Scotland. It is the equivalent to the NHS Direct scheme in England and NHS Direct Wales, allowing people who feel unwell or those caring for them to obtain advice if it is not convenient or possible to wait until they can visit their General Practitioner when the practice is next open. It is not intended as a substitute for obtaining an emergency ambulance service via 999.
Published: Wednesday, February 10, 2016