Choice target missed due to poor local IT

Poor IT implementation by PCTs and poor relationships between primary and secondary care are to blame for low uptake of Choose and Book, a senior GP adviser to the program says.

Choose and Book national clinical lead Dr Mark Davies admitted last week that achieving the programme’s target of 90 per cent of referrals via Choose and Book by 30 March 2007 was ‘impossible’.

He said that a handful of PCTs would hit that level of usage and around a third were processing around 60–70 per cent of referrals through the software. Usage elsewhere is lower.

Dr Davies expressed frustration at poor performance of Choose and Book in some areas.

‘My experience of Choose and Book as a user reinforces my urge to keep using it, but the performance of Choose and Book when GPs log on has been variable,’ he said. ‘Poor performance locally is down to poor local implementation of IT.’

He added that some areas where Choose and Book usage was low had suffered from poor relationships between primary and secondary care that predated the IT program.

He added that, in areas where relations were poor, it had proven more difficult to agree local directories of services, the menu of referral options available through Choose and Book.

Choose and Book performance is also linked to broader PCT performance, Dr Davies said: ‘Areas that have tended to do well are the ones that have done well on other areas of healthcare reform.’

Uptake could suffer further because of widespread threats from GPs to boycott Choose and Book following the GMS pay freeze earlier this year and ending of the choice DES last month.

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