Scottish NHS strikes multi-million pound software deal

NHS Scotland has signed a 3.6 million contract with IT supplier COA Solutions, to provide a shared software solution for all of its 22 health boards.

COA Solutions supplies integrated business management and information systems to public, private and non-for-profit service sector organisations. It has more than 450 staff servicing clients such as WH Smith, Royal Bank of Scotland, National Express and the NHS.

It will provide NHS Scotland with a 'health business suite' as part of a shared support services programme. The software combines core financial management, procurement, human resource and payroll systems, and the service will be fully rolled out by March 2009.

Many of the health boards were already been using the software: "The majority of NHS Scotland's financial transactions were already going through COA Solutions, so it made sense to build on this solid foundation and to work with COA to enhance and extend the health business suite," said John Francis, programme director of the shared support services programme.

He added: "The software has been developed to fully support the re-engineered business processes and help deliver the identified improvements."

The COA Solutions software implementation is part of a Scottish drive to improve efficiency and save 1 billion by 2009-10. Starting in 2004, its goal was to attack waste, bureaucracy and duplication in Scotland's public sector.

NHS National Services Scotland, the body overseeing the move, said that the ability to access and analyse data from all boards will improve decision making. Staff will also be able to view financial documents electronically, freeing up storage space, stopping loss of documents and saving costs on off-site storage.