Clinicians have reported that hospitals in areas including Bristol and London are refusing to release appointments more than a few weeks ahead, in order to ensure they meet their waiting time targets.
But Dr Stephen Miller, medical director of the Choose and Book system, said that it was a misconception that hospitals can manipulate waiting times in this way.
If a patient finds that no convenient slots are available, the Choose and Book Appointments Line will instead send the referral by email, he said.
‘The 18 week clock starts at the point when that email has been received,' says Dr Miller. ‘So it's not actually of any advantage to acute trusts not to put enough appointments onto the system. They've still got the same capacity issues to deal with.'
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