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Choose and Book DES out of reach

Most practices will fail to qualify for directed enhanced service aspiration payments for Choose and Book, leading GP IT experts believe.

Practices have to make 25 per cent of referrals in June via Choose and Book in order to qualify for the initial 48p per


But GPs said this was 'highly unlikely' because of a continuing lack of confidence in the software and a belief it would increase consultation times.

GPs also criticised the one-month target as 'artificial' and a 'completely false' means of assessing usage of the system.

Dr Paul Cundy, chair of the GPC's IT subcommittee, said GPs felt Choose and Book 'can't cope and won't work'.

He said: 'I think it's an overambitious target. June is far too early and basing the whole aspiration payment on one month is stupid.

'It's a completely false way of assessing usage and it appears you can stop doing it for two months afterwards.'

Achievement payments for the DES are based on usage

of Choose and Book between September 2006 and February 2007.

GPs must make at least 50 per cent of referrals using Choose and Book in that period to get any achievement money.

Dr Mary Hawking, a GP in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, doubt- ed whether hospitals would have enough slots to book

patients using the system to

account for a quarter of all


She said: 'I haven't found anyone who says it's quick and easy and doesn't take additional time. Even if you've started using it your chances of getting to 25 per cent are extremely poor.'

Practices only have to say they will hit the target to qualify for the aspiration money, but if they fail to do it the cash will be clawed back.

Dr Gillian Branold, GP clinical lead with Connecting for Health, said she thought 25 per cent was achievable.

She said: 'Yes, it takes a few minutes but it's not for every single patient of every session. I think it's a fair DES.'

Not measuring usage in July and August was helpful as practices tended to use more sessional doctors then, she added.

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