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Patient Choice Schemes

Volume 458: debated on Monday 12 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the cost was of the (a) introduction and (b) roll-out of the (i) choice and (ii) choose and book system. (123607)

The cost of the choose and book computer system will be £64.5 million for system development and related service charges under a core contract with Atos Origin spanning five years. This core contract covered release 1 of the software, delivered on time and to budget on 2 July 2004, a disaster recovery service to ensure resilience and continuity of the service, a helpdesk service to answer user inquiries, and a programme to keep the underlying technologies up to date over the lifetime of the contract. At the end of January 2007, expenditure against this contract was £34.6 million, up from £26.4 million at April 2006.

A further £39.7 million has been spent on the additional functionality and services that the original business case, approved by HM Treasury in October 2003, envisaged were likely to be required as the system rolls out. These costs are expected to total £79.5 million over the five-year period. To date expenditure has covered releases 2 and 3 of the software, a number of minor enhancements increasing the breadth of functionality in response to user comments and changing policy requirements, the delivery and support of a demonstration environment to facilitate clinical engagement, and an additional test environment to ensure that the new software performs as required. An additional £36 million has been spent on supporting the technical configuration of 109,000 local desktop computers and infrastructure to make them compatible with choose and book and with subsequent national programmes for information technology systems. Training has also been provided to trainers and 50,000 end users. These items were also included in the original business case.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what mechanisms she has put in place to measure the change in the overall administrative burden of managing referrals referred to in the answer of 13 June 2006, Official Report, column 1152W, on the choose and book system. (123608)

None. The choose and book system should reduce the overall administrative burden of managing referrals. For example, it eliminates the need for hospitals to correspond with patients over possible appointment times, and absolves practice staff and patients from the need to chase responses to referrals.