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Choose and Book is 'slow, clunky and cumbersome'

Choose and Book is 'clunky', 'cumbersome', adds several minutes to every consultation and is so bad entire regions are refusing to use it, GPs say.

By Ian Cameron

A Pulse snapshot survey of 40 practices with the software installed revealed virtually no positive comments from GPs.Among the horror stories included one GP who recounted spending 45 minutes trying to book a hospital slot for a patient, only to give up when the system would not let him.

Other GPs said using the software routinely added five minutes to a consultation and often locked up their computers. The findings come as a further blow to Connecting for Health and the Government, which has invested millions of pounds in the system.

Connecting for Health has already been forced to put back a target for universal use of the system by a year. Only 95,000 referrals have so far been made via Choose and Book, against an original target of more than 675,000 per month by now.

Choose and Book also crashed for the entire first day GPs were meant to offer all patients a choice of hospital. Dr Patrick Clarke, a GP in Burnham, Buckinghamshire, said the system increased consultation times by half. He described it as 'inefficient nonsense'.

He said: 'Allegedly it is supposed to add 37 seconds onto referral times, but it seems to add about five minutes. The more I do it the faster I get but I can't see being able to shave more than a minute off.'

Dr Andy Paton, a GP in Brixham, Devon, said his practice had abandoned the system. He said: 'There were too many key strokes, it's so cumbersome, in the middle of a consultation it takes too long.'

A GP in north-east Oxfordshire, who asked not to be named, said most GPs in the county had vowed not to use the system. A colleague took 45 minutes to get through the screens, only to find it had not booked the slot, the GP said.

Dr Peter Moore, a GP in Torquay, said Choose and Book training was inadequate. He said: 'The trainer quickly ran through the whole system with two GPs in 15 minutes. Needless to say it was useless.'

Dr Paul Cundy, chair of the GPC's IT subcommittee, said Choose and Book had 'enormous potential' but its inadequacies were not acceptable.

Connecting for Health has no plans to review the software.

What you said

'We are installed, but our hospitals are not ready so we are not using it yet'

Professor Tony Avery, Nottingham

'We cannot run Choose and Book as an integrated part so data has to be re-entered on C&B ­ a further 7 or 8 steps'

Dr Dermot Ryan, Loughborough, Leicestershire

'The whole thing is a complete and inefficient nonsense'

Professor Paul Little, Southampton

'There are too many keystrokes'

Dr Andy Paton, Torbay, Devon

'The training was useless. I decided I would have to teach myself. I could not get it to work'

Dr Peter Moore, Torquay

'It needs a better system for standardising the Directory of Services so the same thing means the same across different trusts'

Anon

'It is supposed to add 37 seconds. It seems to add 5 minutes'

Dr Patrick Clarke, Burnham, Bucks

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