Statements made in the past by the Department of Health about Choose and Book and other projects in the national programme for IT have been largely positive, in contrast to the criticisms made by the National Audit Office.
The statements have accepted the complexity of the project but have given few hints of the specific problems being faced.
Two months ago a spokesman for the NPfIT told Computer Weekly, "The Choose and Book service is currently being rolled out to plan. Five early adopters implemented the service during the summer of 2004 and are now making bookings using the Choose and Book service."
In September last year the spokesman said, "The Choose and Book system is only available to a handful of GPs booking into a limited number of hospital specialities and so only a small number of bookings have been attempted so far.
"All have been successfully conducted. This is a great achievement given the complexity of integrating the different systems that make up Choose and Book. At this stage of the implementation we always intended to focus on making the system work rather than on volume."
In July Computer Weekly asked if there had been a change of emphasis in e-booking projects to incorporate manual processes because some patient administration systems in hospitals would not be compliant with new IT.
The spokesman said, "There is no change of emphasis in our plans for rolling out electronic booking. We are aiming to make electronic booking widely available over the next 18 months."