Two-thirds of patients 'failed' by the Choose and Book programme

Two-thirds of patients re-ferred under Choose and Book are not being given a choice of appointment date or time, say researchers at University College London.

Their report, 'Does Choose and Book fail to deliver the expected choice to patients?' found that only one of the 104 patients surveyed at Hillingdon Hospital, north west London, was offered the choice of four hospitals, date, and time that Choose and Book promised.

Dr Henry Potts, the University College London researcher who oversaw the study, said his team 'believes this could be typical of the national picture'.

The report found that pa-tients were offered a wider choice of hospital than under the old paper referral system. But they reported no improvement in the choice of appointment times.

Around 66 per cent of patients questioned said they were not offered a choice of date for their appointment. The same number said they were not offered an appointment time.

In addition, nearly a third (32 per cent) say they were not given a choice of hospital. A Connecting for Health spokesman said: 'The University College London (UCL) study of 104 patients from a single hospital two years ago does not reflect the experience of most users.

'Recent major surveys on patient choice and primary care consistently show the number of patients using Choose and Book and being offered a service continues to steadily increase.

'It is used for around 50 per cent of all GP referrals to first outpatient appointment.'

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