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Patient Choice Schemes

Health written question – answered on 29th November 2011.

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Photo of Fiona Bruce Fiona Bruce Conservative, Congleton

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the choose and book system.

Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns The Minister of State, Department of Health

Choose and book is in use in every primary care trust and national health service provider organisation across England as well as many independent sector provider organisations who deliver services commissioned by the NHS. 94% of all general practitioner (GP) practices made bookings through choose and book in the last reporting month.

Since 2004, over 32 million patient referrals have been booked via choose and book and there is an average of over 30,000 patients a day whose appointments are booked using the system. This includes 50% of GP referrals to first outpatient services and an increasing number of referrals to other services, including those to allied health professionals, diagnostic and community services and GPs with specialist interests.

The following benefits have been reported by users of choose and book:

greater choice of providers as the services listed not only include those that are provided in hospitals but also those that are provided in other settings; a reduction in referral to treatment time for patients which may lead to shorter care pathways; increased security of referral information and reliability of booking processes; increased appropriateness of referrals; efficiency savings compared to a paper-based process as technology replaces manual booking processes; and a reduction in did not attend (missed) appointments.

A survey of patient views about choose and book was carried out by the Department in April 2010. The findings were as follows:

89% of patients stated that choose and book was ‘Good' or ‘Excellent';

95% of patients thought it was ‘Easy' or ‘Very Easy' to obtain an appointment through choose and book;

56% of patients agreed or strongly agreed that choose and book had improved the management of their referral;

77% ‘Agreed’ or ‘Strongly Agreed' that choose and book had reduced the time to receive an appointment;

59% of patients were able to get an appointment for their chosen date and time (note, out-patient clinics are normally held on specific days and times); and

89% of patients reported being able to go to the hospital of their own choice.

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