Paper referrals backed as Choose and Book 'not mandatory'

The use of Choose and Book is ‘not mandatory’, despite the increasing pressure on GPs to use it, according to the team rolling out the electronic referrals system.

A spokesman for the National Choose and Book Team in England confirmed it was aware that some PCTs and hospitals were only accepting Choose and Book referrals.

The directed enhanced service (DES) for choice and booking ends in March 2008 and the funding will be used instead to pay for extended hours.

Policy at Milton Keynes Hospital in Buckinghamshire, for example, is to use Choose and Book for all referrals, except for those involving a number of urgent conditions such as a cancer.

Spokesmen at neighbouring Bedford Hospital, in Bedfordshire meanwhile, said that in the long term the hospital plans to accept only Choose and Book referrals, ‘in line with national guidance’.

But the Choose and Book team spokesman said: ‘A provider may only refuse to accept a referral on clinical grounds, or in accordance with the agreement of their commissioner,’ he added.

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

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