Connecting for Health IT chief Richard Granger has warned that the £6.2bn NHS IT project could be “derailed” by late changes to IT contract specifications.
Nigel Crisp, NHS chief executive, was recently forced to admit to a parliamentary select committee that the £20m Choose and Book GP patient appointments systems was about a year behind schedule, and that few GPs were using the system.
The comments led Granger to say that the systems on which Choose and Book were running had been delivered on time.
Now, in a leaked e-mail exchange between Granger and a Whitehall official, reported in the Sunday Times (13 November), Granger said the problems with Choose and Book could derail the entire £6.2bn Connecting for Health project.
He said late changes to specifications for the system are the cause of problems.
Choose and Book has so far been used to make about 20,000 hospital appointments for patients. It was supposed to have made 250,000 by December 2004.
When fully operational, the system is specified to be capable of making up to 9.5 million first hospital appointments per year.
In the e-mail exchange with Margaret Edwards, Department of Health director for access and patient choice, he blamed her and a predecessor for adding new specifications to the booking programme.
In his response to Edwards’ e-mail about problems with Choose and Book, Granger said, “Choose and Book’s £20m IT build contract is now in grave danger of derailing [not just destabilising] a £6.2bn programme.”
He concluded, “Unfortunately, your consistently late requests will not enable us to rescue the missed opportunities and targets.”
Granger’s e-mail response came after Edwards brought to Granger’s attention problems with the booking menus used in the Choose and Book system.