Choose and Book is failing, not GPs
So apparently we are not offering patients enough choice on Choose and Book.
An alternative explanation may be that GPs do offer patients a choice, but they generally want to be seen at their local hospital and, heaven forbid, by a doctor recommended by their GP!
Much as I do not enjoy appearing on film, I have often been tempted to have a video camera in my consulting room. That way, the Department of Health could follow the conversation that takes place between a GP and patient when we access Choose and Book and start discussing choice.
One patient told me giving the patient the choice rather than allowing the GP to advise was like telling the plumber where to buy his tools.
The choice patients do want, which is denied to them locally, is the opportunity to choose the consultant they see at the local hospital. In an attempt to meet targets, our local hospital trust does not allow this. Even if a patient has seen a consultant before, they will be given the first available appointment with any consultant in that speciality.
It would seem that Her Majesty's Government has got it wrong again, and all at the taxpayers' expense.
Dr Diana Lowry, Epping, Essex
Your article on GPs' 'failure' with Choose and Book really annoyed me.
I have lost count of the number of times I have given up on using Choose and Book and have resorted to a good old-fashioned referral letter by fax or in an envelope, because the system offered no choice at all.
Despite in theory offering a dozen different clinics, the system will state that there is no clinic available. Or the next appointment is in 60 days' time. Or the clinic doesn't cover the service I require.
Patients don't want choice. They want a local clinic and a reasonable appointment date with an understanding consultant in the specialty they need.
Choose and Book is letting them down, not GPs.
From Dr Susanna Timmins, Shenfield, Essex