Scotland politics

MSPs slam NHS bosses over £41.6m IT system overspend

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Media captionFormer boss John Turner said he was not informed of problems with the contract for 22 months

MSPs have slammed the management of NHS 24 while investigating a £41.6m overspend in its new IT system.

The system, which is yet to be completed, was budgeted at £75m, but is currently forecast to cost £117m.

Public Audit Committee members said managers should be "ashamed" of the "failings" and "serious incompetence" which had led to "a complete mess".

There is still no launch date for the system. Interim boss Ian Crichton said it could end up costing up to £125m.

Former chief executive John Turner said he was "very sorry" that the system had not yet been delivered, saying his final years in the job were "very tough".

'Fundamental flaw'

Mr Turner, who signed the 1,000-page contract for the IT system in March 2012, said he felt "very let down" by a senior colleague, saying they "didn't advise me at all".

He said he was not informed of a "fundamental flaw" in the system being delivered for 22 months, adding "other, more junior staff were aware of omissions" in the contract, "but they didn't tell me."

Committee convener Paul Martin said there must have been issues with management if staff did not feel able to come forward.

He also said bosses should be "ashamed" of the situation, saying 1,900 nurses could have been recruited with the money lost in the overspend.

Image caption Interim chief executive Ian Crichton said the system could cost up to £125m to deliver

Fellow Labour MSP Richard Simpson said in terms of IT, there was a "fractured, dysfunctional system across the NHS".

He said the portal system with information for doctors was a "disgrace", adding: "It's a complete mess. We're so far behind in IT."

Mary Scanlon said she was "angry" when reading NHS 24's written response to the committee - which included a statement saying the body "apologises unreservedly".

The Conservative MSP said it was clear there had been "pretty serious incompetence, costing taxpayers £42m".

Lib Dem Tavish Scott asked if anyone had been sacked over the matter.

Mr Crichton replied: "The chair of the board is no longer there, the chief executive is no longer there and the chief finance officer is no longer there."

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