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Choose and Book, you’re chucked

Come on now Choose and Book, dry your eyes. We both knew it was never going to work.

Nothing personal, you understand, it’s just that it was clear from the very beginning that you and I didn’t have a long-term future together.

You see, my job, or one of them, is to get patients who need a second opinion into a room to spend quality time with the person I think best placed to help. Your main objective always seemed to be to put as many obstacles as humanly possible between the two of them.

I’m not saying that you deliberately diverted referrals to completely inappropriate out patient clinics, although we both know that used to happen on a pretty regular basis. And I’m not accusing you of making an actual effort to come up with jaw-droppingly unsuitable passwords like ‘Crazy Mother’ for the children’s mental health clinic, although I often wondered what dark forces were at work in your department.

I’m sorry that I went so far as to describe you on Twitter as a ‘cynical’ ploy designed to hoodwink patients into thinking that they were being empowered to make choices whilst simultaneously depriving them of the only one that really mattered, an informed choice of specialist, advised by someone supposedly expert like me. But you were a slippery customer to deal with, some might even say you were devious.

Patients clutching my recommendation to their bosom would be distracted by the siren song of your call centre staff, promising easier and cheaper car parking at St. Elsewhere, a choice of retail coffee outlets at Riverside or a shorter waiting time in Mr McTavish’s clinic at Skint NHS Trust. By the way, if you bump into Slasher McT on your travels, say ‘Hi’ from all of us here who devote our lives to readmitting his post-op patients on evenings when his team aren’t on take.

While we’re on the subject, if you ever meet the guy who designed Choose and Book’s online appointment booking software let him know that our offer of free chew toys and biscuits for his guide dog still stands.

I know what you’re going to say, that I never really committed to our relationship in any meaningful way. You always viewed my use of headed notepaper as ‘passive aggressive’ and I know how much it hurt when you saw my letters marked, ‘For the attention of the named consultant ONLY’. I’m sorry, but desperate situations called for desperate methods.

Break ups are always difficult, but let’s keep this constructive. Who knows where you might move on to? Perhaps there is an opening in the realm of cinema seat booking where my best efforts to book seats anywhere in Essex to see Casablanca resulted in a hundred-mile round trip to a multiplex in East Sussex.

So, Choose and Book, fly away and start life over afresh. Our troubles don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. If you don’t get on that plane you’ll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life.

And remember, we’ll always have Chelmsford.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield