NHS 24 has announced the appointment of a new interim chief executive.
Angiolina Foster, the current chief executive of Healthcare Improvement Scotland, has been promoted to this new role.
Foster will take up this new position on 1st March following the departure of current NHS 24 interim chief executive Ian Crichton.
The new Chief Executive has been working in her previous position for nearly 2 years, having previously been the Director of Health and Social Care Integration in the Scottish government.
Foster will also continue to be the accountable officer for Healthcare improvement Scotland, with Robbie Pearson shifting into the position of Chief Executive.
Commenting on her new appointment, Foster was pushing out about the NHS 24 service.
“NHS 24 provides a vital service to people in Scotland every single day. I very much look forward to working with such a committed team and to helping them achieve the service improvements that the Future Programme will bring. My passion for the important work of Healthcare Improvement Scotland is undiminished and I know I am leaving it in very good hands until my return later this year.”
Foster will need to address some computing difficulties that have besieged NHS 24 in recent times.
In particular, the development of NHS 24’s new IT system, known as the Future Programme has proven to be problematical.
Both NHS and public sector computer projects in general are known to frequently run over budget, and the Future Programme has been no exception to this trend.
The system still has no launch date and is projected to cost £117.4m over 10 years; £41.6m more than the original £75m price tag.
Executives have already appeared before the Scottish Parliament to explain the problems with this system, and this is an issue that Foster will certainly be required to gain traction with.
Ian Crichton, the leader of National Services Scotland, took the time out from his role to explain to members of the Scottish Parliament some of the logistical difficulties.
“From the very start, the organisation vastly underestimated the scale of the work and the complexity involved in bringing such an ambitious programme into service, and it has struggled to cope. Although many mistakes have been made—and I can understand the committee’s extreme concern and dissatisfaction—it is important that you understand that NHS 24 has learned from them.”
Crichton also suggested that the situation had improved significantly from 12 months previously.
“It may not feel like that when you look at the issue from a distance, but if you look at each stage, when we have fallen down, we have picked ourselves up; we have made progress and got to the position today in which the technology works. We were not in that position a year ago.”
Despite the problems with the system, the Scottish government had nevertheless confirmed its continuing support for the project.