NHS 24 now delayed until December 2017

Scotland's call handling and IT system is now over budget by 73%

Scotland's NHS 24 call handling and IT system's launch has been delayed until December 2017, as costs spiral out of control to 73% above budget.

The revised plan will now see the system introduced in staged parts, which means it will be very far behind original time estimates.

The first stage of the plan - rolling the system out to planned care homes - will happen later this autumn, then unscheduled care services in a single NHS board will follow in March 2017, with the final piece of the infrastructure - unscheduled care services - getting access to NHS 24 in December.

The costs have also risen from 75.8 million up to where it stands now - at 131.2 million. When it was first announced in 2013, savings were predicted to be 10 million a year, but this is now being re-assessed as the time it will take to generate savings will be extended due to the higher overheads.

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In fact, every month the system is not operational, it adds on an additional half a million pounds of costing.

"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," a report by Audit Scotland 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."

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