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Choices take longer

Dr Richard Hirson says Government claims that giving patients a choice of hospital adds just 36 seconds to consultation times is well wide of the mark.

Dr Hirson, a GP in Manea, Cambridgeshire, took part in the pilot for the electronic booking scheme, which is due to be rolled out to all practices by the end of 2005. He said going through choices with patients and answering follow-up inquiries added 'several' minutes.

'The idea of offering choice is good but it's impractical to offer choice and e-booking on all referrals,' he said. 'It took me longer than 36 seconds to go through the whole palaver and then there were some repeat consultations on the phone or by e-mail.'

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