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Patients still not getting enough choice

PUBLISHED: 19:00 24 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:48 09 March 2010

SUFFOLK health chiefs are still failing to offer patients choice over their NHS care, it emerged today.

In October just 35.5 per cent of referrals were made using the choose and book system, against a regional average of 46.

SUFFOLK health chiefs are still failing to offer patients choice over their NHS care, it emerged today.

In October just 35.5 per cent of referrals were made using the choose and book system, against a regional average of 46.9pc.

Meanwhile the latest data shows that 27pc of patients in Suffolk recall being offered a choice of hospital, compared to a regional average of 37pc.

Choose and book allows patients to pick which hospital they want to be treated at from a range of options.

The expensive system is being pushed by the Department of Health and although Suffolk is a rural area without a large number of hospitals to choose from NHS Suffolk has appointed a project manager to focus on improving the take up of choose and book.

The strategic health authority also visited NHS Suffolk in November to discuss the problem.

Tracy Dowling, director of strategic commissioning at NHS Suffolk, the county's primary care trust, said they are making progress and have put an extensive action plan in place.

She added: “In addition, we have employed and trained extra staff to work with general practices to ensure choose and book is as easy as possible for them to use.

“We are committed to making sure that both patients and general practices in Suffolk can book appointments quickly and directly, and as such are taking far-reaching action to improve the choose and book system to make sure it is working well for everyone.”

Should more be done to offer choice to patients in Suffolk, or should the system be scrapped to save money? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.


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