'Improve Choose and Book to encourage use of the system'

GPs remain reluctant to use Choose and Book despite technical improvements, a King's Fund study has found.

Just 4 per cent of patients consulted information on NHS Choices (Photograph: Istock)

The King's Fund report, Patient Choice: How Patients Choose And How Providers Respond, outlines concerns about the system.

It found that GPs still 'strongly criticise' its suitability for arranging appointments for treatment.

GPs were concerned about the system's technical shortcomings as well as the inability to refer to a named consultant and lack of directly bookable appointment slots.

The report said: 'If Choose and Book is to be used more widely, continued improvements will be needed in the systems and training in its functionality, especially if local incentives are dropped.'

The King's Fund looked at how patients who need a referral to a specialist are exercising their right to choose a provider.

The study found that patients living in non-urban areas were more likely than those in urban areas to be offered a choice and were more likely to choose to travel beyond their local provider.

The King's Fund also found that older patients, those from mixed or non-white backgrounds and those with no qualifications were more likely than other patients to think having a choice was important.

The study showed that just 4 per cent of patients consulted the NHS Choices website, with most preferring to rely on their own experience or the advice of their GP.

The King's Fund said that there remains 'some resistance' among GPs to offering choice routinely to all patients, regardless of circumstance.

Although GPs maintain that they always offered choice to their patients, only 49 per cent of patients recall being offered, the study found.

Anna Dixon, director of policy at The King's Fund and the report's lead author, said: 'While it is still early days, we are some way from realising the vision of choice acting as a lever to improve quality, with informed patients choosing the highest performing providers in a competitive market.'

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Just published

GP appointment

General practice delivered 342m appointments in 2022 - and lost nearly 500 GPs

General practice in England delivered around 342m appointments in total in 2022 with...

NHS sign

Local GPs unite to take over two practices run by hospital trust

GPs in Swindon have come together to take over two practices that had spent more...

Talking General Practice logo

Podcast: Why are junior doctors preparing to strike?

Talking General Practice speaks to BMA GP trainee committee chair Dr David Smith...


Practices face losing out on QOF income amid soaring demand

GP practices risk losing out on QOF income this year because sky-high demand for...

Nurse giving older man a COVID-19 vaccine

JCVI recommends targeted COVID-19 vaccination programme in 2023

People at higher risk of severe COVID-19 should be offered a booster vaccination...

Health and social care secretary Steve Barclay leaving number 10 Downing Street

Government sets out plans for 'major conditions' health strategy

The government is to set out a strategy to tackle six 'major' health conditions in...