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Choose and Book ‘fails to give patients true choice’



By Nigel Praities

Choose and Book fails to give patients a true choice of time and location of their hospital appointment and may be a factor in high DNA rates, according to new research.

In a study aiming to reveal the true patient experience of using the controversial Choose and Book system, specialists surveyed the opinion of 57 patients attending their respiratory clinic.

The researchers – who presented their research at the British Thoracic Society meeting in London earlier this month – discovered that of those referred to them using Choose and Book, around 14% failed to attend or cancelled their appointment.

Of those who attended, 41% said they had a limited or no choice regarding the time and location of their appointment using Choose and Book. Over a quarter would have chosen a different hospital if they could have, and nearly 17% would have changed the time and date of the appointment.

In many cases the GP assisted with the appointment booking, and a third were happy for the GP to choose their appointment for them.

The authors – from Imperial College London and the University of Glasgow – concluded that there were ‘limited options and flexibility’ for patients using Choose and Book

‘Our findings suggest that a high proportion of respiratory patients do not exercise true choice with Choose and Book,’ they said.

‘System and process obstacles seem to be exacerbated by a lack of patient awareness and may be contributing to high non-attendance rates.’

A Department of Health spokesperson said it was the responsibility of local NHS organisations to ensure that patients were satisified with the choices there were offered through Choose and Book.

‘Local NHS organisations are also responsible for ensuring there are services available for GPs to refer patients into. When properly implemented, Choose and Book can provide significant benefits not only for patients, but also for referrers, providers and the wider NHS by delivering choice, certainty, security and reliability,’ she said.

BTS 2010, abstract P229

Choose and Book fails to offer many patients true choice, researchers claim Choose and Book fails to offer many patients true choice, researchers claim