NHS 24’s governance of the Scottish Centre for Telehealth and Telecare has been heavily criticised in a leaked report produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Scottish newspaper The Herald published details of the report, which scrutinises the way that NHS 24, the health information and self care advice service for Scotland, has handled spending and staffing levels at the centre over the past three years.
The paper quotes the review: "NHS 24 governance of SCTT direction and performance has been largely absent in an effective manner since 2012."
It also mentions that "there is a perception that a number of posts [at the SCTT] may hold a higher grading than that operationally required".
In the past three years the SCTT has increased its number of whole time equivalent employees from 14 to 30, nine of which are senior managers.
In a statement sent to Digital Health News the SCTT mentions the increase in staffing levels is due to “the growing demand for expertise in this area”, adding that there are currently 24 staff in post.
The SCTT works on the development of technology based health solutions for Scotland as well as to provide leadership in European health programmes on behalf of the country.
To support this, the centre receives recurring annual funding of £2 million from Scottish government, with £1 million of this funding specifically to support European engagement work on behalf of Scotland.
According to NHS 24, the SCTT has also secured additional funding of around £3.5 million for Scotland from the European Commission.
However, the Herald says the report mentions concerns about the SCTT’s ability to deliver projects and that it may need to make use of NHS 24’s central budget.
The report, which was commissioned by NHS 24 as part of an internal review, comes at a challenging time for the organisation.
Last summer Digital Health News reported that NHS 24 had delayed the deployment of a £27m patient contact and triage management system indefinitely.
This was followed by a report by the Auditor General for Scotland, which said that the organisation’s ‘Future Programme’ to update its technology was likely to come in at around £23 million over-budget and two years behind schedule.
The organisation is also going through a period of upheaval following the resignation of former chief executive John Turner in July.
NHS National Services Scotland chief executive Ian Crichton has stepped in as interim chief executive while the search for a permanent replacement takes place.
At the time of his departure Turner said: “I have enjoyed my time with NHS 24 immensely, and having recently successfully delivered a number of important milestones including the consolidation of the 111 service, completion of the 2014/15 performance year, and with the strong recent progress with our Future Programme, this seems like the right time for me to decide to move on.”
A spokesperson for the Scottish government said: “NHS 24 has taken the right step in commissioning an external review of their governance arrangements over the Scottish Centre for Telehealth and Telecare and we would expect them to carefully consider the report and take action to address the findings.
“The Scottish government will also consider the findings of the report in detail and look at what more can be done to effectively oversee the work of the SCTT, particularly work commissioned on its behalf.”
The SCTT, previously known as the Scottish Centre for Telehealth, was originally part of NHS Grampian but became part of NHS 24 in 2010.