NHS 24 IT system suspended due to technical difficulties

The NHS 24 call centre at South Queensferry. Picture by Greg Macvean
The NHS 24 call centre at South Queensferry. Picture by Greg Macvean
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Staff had to stop using NHS 24’s multi-million pound new computer system within an hour of its launch last night due to technical difficulties.

The technology, known as Future Programme, was intended to make the helpline system more efficient but it was criticised by Audit Scotland earlier this month for coming in £40m over budget with a delay of two years.

The system was launched for non-urgent calls yesterday but patients who rang the 111 helpline number for out-of-hours matters are believed to have waited for minutes for an answer before NHS 24 decided to revert back to their old system for safety reasons.

A spokesperson for NHS 24 said: “NHS 24 can confirm that following implementation of a new technology system yesterday, we experienced some technical difficulties last night and reverted back to the previous system.

“Although the system had worked well during the day and several hundred calls were managed smoothly, for a short period during early evening, some patients had a slightly longer waiting time to access the service.

“Close monitoring, as we moved into the busier out of hours period, alerted us to concerns over IT system stability and we took a proactive decision to roll back to the existing technology platform.

“This was to ensure we retained full control and could absolutely maintain the safety of our services and our patients.

“Our technology teams have worked throughout the night and we have identified the cause of the problem.

“We are aiming to have a solution in place and to have our new technology platform fully operational as soon as possible, but will only implement it when we are sure it is safe to do so.”

Patients are able to ring the helpline as normal.