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Choose & Book delays urgent cases

A report is calling for a revamp of Choose and Book's software after finding some patients are failing to receive urgent appointments, writes Laura Doherty.

Poorly trained staff left to make bookings were compounding the situation, it said.The study investigated the impact of Choose and Book on dermatology referrals from 12 surgeries in Hertfordshire last year. It found it had increased referral rates, with one in eight then rejected – chiefly because patients were receiving routine appointments when urgent appointments were needed.Dr Julia Schofield, lead author of the study and consultant dermatologist at West Hertfordshire NHS Hospitals Trust, said the problems would not have occurred in the pre-Choose and Book era. 'We think the main reason is it's not GPs booking appointments. It's being delegated to practice staff who will not, in many cases, have any idea of clinical need.'The report calls for the directory of services – described by Dr Mike Walton, a GP in St Albans, as 'cluttered and cumbersome' – to be modified.Dr Mark Davies, Choose and Book primary care medical director, blamed hospitals for 'inappropriately rejecting' referrals when systems were in place for them to be rebooked.He said most appointments were generated by GPs, adding: 'It is the GP's responsibility to advise staff booking referrals.'

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