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NHS 24 acknowledges IT governance failures



Scotland's telehealth and telecare organisation tells SMPs that systemic governance failure is cause of delay in roll out of new IT system

Poor governance, underestimating risk and an original business case that was inadequate have been blamed for the long term delays in implementing a new IT system for Scotland's telecare and telehealth service – according to the organisation itself.

NHS 24 has acknowledged the shortcomings in a report submitted to a hearing of Scottish Parliament's Public Audit Committee.

The new service went live in November of last year, more than two years after the original target date, but was quickly withdrawn due to a fall in service levels. This came soon after a report by Audit Scotland highlighted the sharply rising costs of the delay.

The organisation's submission to the committee says that “overall systemic failure around programme governance is the root cause”. It underestimated the risk of developing a next generation system, had an weak business case, an insufficient understanding of how to set up a call centre system, and there was too much reliance on supplier promises.

In addition, it points to Capgemini as failing to meet a commitment to supply a working solution in 2013, and says that different programme boards and committees failed to identity and manage the risks, and various audits and reviews have been ineffective.

Rising costs

Subsequently, the projected costs have risen from £75.8 million to £117.4 million, but there is a danger that this could rise by another £7.6 million. But it maintains that the system will remain in place for 10 years after it has been fully implemented.

In its conclusion, NHS 24 said: “NHS 24 apologises unreservedly for its failure to effectively implement the Future Programme but wishes to reassure the committee that lessons have been learned and the system is expected to finally launch in the summer of 2016.

“The current system continues to enable NHS 24 to provide a safe, effective and person centred service but is incapable of further development to support the future evolution of our services and therefore needs to be replaced.”

A spokesperson for NHS 24 told UKAuthority that it is working on the software that supports the system and, while there is no firm date, it hopes to relaunch the system in the latter part of the summer.

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