Letters, calls and emails: Choose and Book is not fit for purpose

Dear Editor

Apparently, some GPs think that Choose and Book is a wonderful system. I do not.

I am fed up with the administrative problems of my local PCT and the proforma-following drones who work in the central booking office.

In theory, Choose and Book is a good system but, as with many government daydreams, it was rolled out too early.

The secretaries at my practice tell me on a daily basis of the problems they encounter in sending the referrals. These are mostly to do with services simply not being offered on the system due to PCT delays in updating the software.

We regularly have patients complaining about difficulties in making their appointments (especially in regard to tier-two referrals), to the point where some elderly patients have ended up bursting into tears in front of the receptionists.

Today though was the final straw. One of my patients had an appointment yesterday but was unable to attend it as the pre-arranged hospital transport never materialised.

Having phoned the hospital and then the booking office herself she was told to seek my help. I duly spoke to someone in the central booking office, who was obviously completely without a thought process of his own, and who told me that my patient would have to be re-referred.

Consequently, this poor, elderly lady has another few months of waiting.

In the end I referred her the old-fashioned, paper-based way and marked it ‘urgent’, hoping that the consultant would be compassionate.

Now, however, some departments are disregarding paper-based referrals, often without informing us.

In my opinion, at least around these parts, Choose and Book is an absolute shambles. The fact that we now seem not to have a choice and can potentially be penalised for not using this totally inadequate system is farcical.

Can somebody please suggest a way to get our point across?

Dr Michael Linton
Rochdale, Lancashire

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