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Choose and Book is no nirvana

Open letter to Dr Mark Davies, clinical lead for Choose and Book at Connecting for Health I read with interest your description of the Choose and Book and NHS IT nirvana that we should be experiencing (News analysis, 21 June).

Your comments regarding time and other benefits refer to pilots, which are always well provided for when they are politically driven.

Choose and Book increases the time spent doing a referral for everyone using it in the following ways.

• The system is unreliable.

• Referrals have to be delayed until the system works.

• The GP secretarial staff have to type the letter and then use Choose and Book to make an appointment.

• Secretaries have to spend extra time explaining systems to patients as well as referring them.

• Receptionists have to deal with calls from patients asking how to use the system, or sort them out when they don¹t get what they want.

• Receptionists have to spend time explaining that Choose and Book does not get them an appointment any earlier.

• Receptionists also have to offer a choice of time to the patient and wait while the patient checks their diary to see when they are free to have their life-threatening conditions dealt with.

• As a result of the above, administrative staff need to send a letter to the patient on how to make an appointment (three letters per referral at practice level instead of just one).

• All of this costs us more in postage.

• Not forgetting, of course, the amount of time spent ringing local IT and Choose and Book help desks. This is almost a daily occurrence.

Perhaps, as you are just up the road, you could provide us with a hit squad to sort out these unresolved and ongoing problems? You are more than welcome to visit.

Dr Nick Luscombe, Barnsley, Yorkshire

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