Target for Choose and Book is too ‘ambitious'

The DoH will not meet a 31 March 2007 target for 90 per cent of GP referrals through the Choose and Book IT system, according to a senior GP.

Dr Paul Cundy, chairman of the joint GPC/RCGP IT committee told GP that 25 to 30 per cent was more likely by that date.  

The March 2007 target was set after a target for 100 per cent usage by 2005 slipped.  

Dr Cundy’s comments follow a letter to GPs from national clinical director for primary care Dr David Colin-Thomé last month, in which he said: ‘Over one in five people referred are now benefiting from the Choose and Book system.  

‘However, that means that four out of five are not, so there is still much to be done.’  

Dr Cundy said the chances of tripling usage of the system by the end of the current financial year were ‘pretty low’.  

‘A reasonable expectation would be for 25 to 30 per cent of bookings through the system by that stage,’ he said.  

Dr Cundy criticised the DoH for setting ‘overly ambitious’ targets. ‘It would be far better to let things bed in on the basis of success rather than stuffing the system down people’s throats.’  

He said many potential GP users had been put off because of frequent technical problems.   

‘In my practice we have just been upgraded to the integrated version of Choose and Book, but it has now crashed,’ he said. ‘I have heard of bookings disappearing after they have been made.’  

Dr Cundy said that GPs accepted the system was potentially very useful, but most would wait for a version that was reliable before getting involved.  

Dr Colin-Thomé urged GPs to alert their PCT if hospitals failed to make appointments available through Choose and Book.

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