Bosses back NHS booking system

HEALTH bosses today defended the decision to implement a controversial booking system in Suffolk.As reported in Saturday's Evening Star, many people in the county think Choose and Book, which allows patients to pick when and where they would like their first hospital appointment, is a waste of money.

HEALTH bosses today defended the decision to implement a controversial booking system in Suffolk.

As reported in Saturday's Evening Star, many people in the county think Choose and Book, which allows patients to pick when and where they would like their first hospital appointment, is a waste of money.

Anne Nicholls, chairwoman of the Patient and Public Involvement Forum for Suffolk PCT, the group which represents patients' interests in Suffolk, said most Ipswich patients simply wanted to go to Ipswich Hospital and offering choice could be confusing and a waste of precious time with doctors.

Suffolk Primary Care Trust's own figures showed only 24per cent of GP referrals to hospital's in Suffolk were made via the system, ranking it one of the lowest counties in the country for take-up.


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But today the Department of Health said Choose and Book was good for Suffolk.

A spokesman said: “Choose and Book is certainly not an appointments referral system appropriate only for cities.

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“It is being used most successfully by patients and GPs in many rural parts of the country - and in many rural areas with far above average referral figures.

“If patients prefer to attend their nearest hospital this is entirely appropriate with Choose and Book.

“All NHS hospitals are now using Choose and Book, along with 90per cent of GP practices in England.

“This is a clear indication that Choose and Book is becoming the everyday method of referral right across the country.

“As use increases steadily, it is patients who are benefiting most from the convenience of Choose and Book's referral service.”

What's your verdict on Choose and Book? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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