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Choose and Book System

Volume 454: debated on Wednesday 13 December 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to improve computer systems operating choose and book; and what plans she has to review the effectiveness of choose and book. (100993)

Many different types of general practice and hospital computer systems are in use across the national health service. NHS trusts and primary care trusts (PCTs) are responsible for maintaining and upgrading local systems, for the technical integration of these systems with choose and book. NHS Connecting for Health supports technical upgrading by providing funding to cover the reasonable costs of making existing systems choose and book-compliant. NHS Connecting for Health is also currently piloting a performance-monitoring tool designed to help local project and information technology teams diagnose and locate any problems in the overall choose and book process.

Nationally, the system has performed well since its launch in 2004. One PCT already uses choose and book for over 90 per cent. of its referrals, which demonstrates that the system is working and fit for purpose. Local benchmarking suggests that when local configuration is correct choose and book is easy and convenient to use, and over the last 12 months the national system has been available for use over 99 per cent. of the time.

Choose and book has now achieved over 15,000 bookings in a single day and is being used for over25 per cent. of NHS referral activity from general practitioners’ (GPs) surgeries to first outpatient appointment. Over 1.7 million bookings have been made to date, and over 80 per cent. of all GP practices have used choose and book to refer their patients to hospital.

We know that when patients have the opportunity to book their appointments electronically they are more likely to attend their hospital appointment. This helps avoid wasting valuable appointments and contributes to hospitals running more efficiently. Missed appointments are a constant drain on NHS resources, estimated to cost up to ÂŁ300 million a year. For example, one trust has seen non-attendance and rescheduling rates fall from 9 per cent. to 5 per cent., and from 14 per cent. to4 per cent. respectively, where choose and book is in use.