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Choose and Book increases hospital no-shows by 50%

By Steve Nowottny

Patients referred through Choose and Book are 50% less likely to make their appointment than those referred through traditional means, researchers warned today.

A pilot study at the University Hospital, Lewisham found a ‘significant differerence' in attendance rates, with 18% of Choose and Book referrals failing to attend, compared to just 12% of traditional referrals.

The findings echo very closely the conclusions of a Pulse investigation in June 2007, which found that nationally 17% of Choose and Book referrals fail to attend, compared to 11% of traditional referrals. Pulse's investigation then concluded that a quarter of a million patients referred through Choose and Book had missed appointments they would otherwise have attended.

In a letter to the BMJ, the authors of today's study wrote: ‘Choose and Book has failed to achieve its main goal of improving patients' satisfaction and attendance. Moreover, it creates an unnecessary economic burden on the health system and jeopardises the prioritisation process by removing clinicians from the process.'

However a Department of Health spokesperson claimed the findings were not backed up by other research.

‘We are surprised by these findings given that all the other evidence suggests Choose and Book significantly reduces Did Not Attend rates,' he said.

‘It is logical that if a patient is actively involved in decisions about their care, attendance is likely to improve. We note that further research is being undertaken to test these findings and seek an explanation for them.'

Choose and Book increases hospital no-shows by 50% Choose and Book increases hospital no-shows by 50%

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