GP referrals delayed due to Christmas appointments

Patients making Choose and Book referrals to a hospital in south west England are being giving appointments on Christmas Day.

Staff at a local GP practice say that patients referred to certain departments at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, have complained that no appointment is available.

It appears that patients had been only offered appointments dated 25 December 2008.

'Patients spend an hour on the phone to be told they can't have an appointment,' said a member of practice staff. 'That's hardly Choose and Book.'

A DoH spokesman said that such manipulation would not help the trust to achieve the 18-week waiting time targets, because the clock starts as soon as a referral is received.

'Hospitals are required to accept all referrals if clinically appropriate,' he said.

'If this is happening we expected the SHA to take robust action,' he added.

A hospital spokeswoman said that it 'accepts that there are capacity issues in certain specialties'.

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