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'Book' farce on air

The Government's NHS IT reforms suffered an embarrassment last week when a public demonstration of Choose and Book ended in farce.

The system failed on BBC Radio 4's File on Four programme as a GP took a BBC reporter through the process.

Dr Andrew Langton was de-monstrating the system but it failed when it was supposed to give him a printout of his selected appointment.

On air, he said: 'This is the trouble with Choose and Book stuff. You get it all set up and do a demo and then it does something completely different. I don't know why.'

But after the programme he claimed he had pressed the wrong button and could have corrected the problem simply.

'On that occasion, which is the only time I have ever made the mistake, I clicked on "request" rather than "book",' he said. 'I was thrown because I was under pressure. I'm happy to look rather silly, but for me the software works.'

Dr Simon Bradley, a GP in Bristol who was quoted in the programme, said Avon LMC, of which he is chair, had advised 130 practices not to use the 'immature and slow' system.

Connecting for Health said it had listened and responded to doctor's concerns and would continue to address concerns.

Meanwhile, a Medix-UK survey revealed half of GPs rarely or never used Choose and Book even though 80 per cent said their practice was equipped to use the system.

More than half of GPs said arrangements for confidentiality of centrally-held care records were unsatisfactory.

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