Grant Shapps

From Nhs It Info

(Welwyn Hatfield, Conservative - Member, Public Administration Committee)

House of Commons Debate (3 May 2006)

"We are all familiar with the £6.2 billion project designed for booking appointments, the so-called choose and book system. We are also aware that the project has been mired in controversy, with backlogs, and with money going down the drain. It was supposed to be up and running by last year, but it was not. I would be interested to hear a progress report from the Minister on that system. An efficient choose and book system would of course make a great deal of difference in cutting the number of missed appointments. However, the Government seem to confuse spending vast sums of taxpayers' money on complicated computer projects with actually fixing the problem. In the context of the pledge to try to reduce the number of no shows, and the reference to the new £6.2 billion computer system, does the Minister feel that that was money well spent? Has it lived up to expectations? Clearly it cannot have done so far. Will it live up to expectations, or will that money never be recovered? I ask that question for a very good reason: £6.2 billion is perhaps six times the deficit for this year alone in the NHS. That is an awful lot of money, and so far we have seen no benefits from the system. I have figures from August last year showing that if the system had been on target, 205,000 appointments should have been made. However, only 63 appointments were booked though the computerised system. I would be interested to hear an update on those figures from the Minister."

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