A new report has concluded that government reforms aimed at increasing the number of NHS patients treated in the community have not been fully achieved.
Just 11% of PCTs were using the Choose and Book system for booking appointments, the joint Audit and Health Commission report said. This figure was far below the stated usage goal of 90%.
Of the PCTs who were using the new system, 31% were underperforming against this target, while the remaining 58% of trusts had failed outright to meet it.
Under the reforms, care is due to be moved out of hospitals and into the community, but the report said that this was not happening on the scale originally envisaged. The number of staff in primary care had actually increased at a slower rate than in hospitals, it said.
Better collection of primary care performance data was needed after the situation arose in which no information had been collected to measure the number of outpatient appointments provided in the community by hospital consultants. The government had said that four million of these appointments should have been provided by 2004.
The reforms are understood to have cost around £1bn since 2004/05.