A £27 million BT/CapGemini computer project which was supposed to help NHS patents get better care has ground to a halt.

The Scottish Herald is reporting how a technology package for NHS 24 should have been ready to use by more than 700 frontline staff across four major call centres last autumn, is broken and is unsafe to deploy.

What this means is that an easy-to-remember freephone number for NHS 24 has been delayed and there is still no date for introducing the IT system, which was intended to provide a better service, increase efficiency and save money.

NHS24

NHS 24 handles about 1.5 million calls from patients every year. The service wanted a new computer system for managing interactions with patients BT provided the hardware and Capgemini was responsible for the software.

The system was expected to make calls with patients swifter and give NHS 24 more flexibility to adjust the way it works. The continuing costs of running the technology were also set to be lower, saving money.

The introduction of the system has been delayed after "various issues" were identified during tests which made it "unsafe" to deploy.

Investigation

Labour health spokesman Neil Findlay has lodged a series of questions in the Scottish Parliament about circumstances at NHS 24 and has called on Holyrood's Health Committee to investigate.

He is worried that no one knows what additional costs are being incurred by the taxpayers. We do not know how long the delays are and what the consequences for the service are of such delays.

The Scottish Government has lent NHS 24 more than £20 million in the past two financial years to prevent the service from going into the red as it has invested in the new system.