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Choose and Book incentives in doubt

The future of the Choose and Book DES has been thrown into doubt following comments from a Connecting for Health official.

Dr Stephen Miller, medical director for Choose and Book, told Pulse demand from patients would replace financial incentives as the main motivator for use of the system.

Dr Miller denied comments attributed to him in E-Health Insider that the DES would end next March – insisting that was not his decision.

But Dr Miller said: ‘At the moment we have things like the DES, but in future the drive for this is going to be from patients wanting change.'

His comments came as Connecting for Health reported that Choose and Book is now being used for 43% of first outpatient referrals.

But Dr Chaand Nagpaul, GPC negotiator, said take-up was still ‘extremely patchy' and urged against removal of the DES, which rewards GPs with up to 48p funding per patient on their list, depending on their use of Choose and Book.

Speculation over the future of funding came as Eastern and Coastal Kent PCT became the latest trust to order GPs to make all referrals through Choose and Book.

In a letter to GPs, the PCT set out a timetable for introducing mandatory electronic referrals, starting with neurology on 10 December. ‘Any manual referrals received after the "go live" that are not part of the exceptions policy will not be processed and will be sent back to the GP,' it warned.

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