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Patients’ attendance at clinics is worse with Choose and Book

Patients’ attendance at clinics is worse with choose and book than with traditional general practitioner referrals, say senior doctors from University Hospital Lewisham in a letter to this week’s British Medical Journal.

The electronic "Choose and Book" referral service aims to improve attendance at NHS clinics by giving patients a choice of place, date and time for their first outpatient appointment.

The authors carried out a pilot study at their hospital and found a significant difference in non-attendance (18% with Choose and Book compared to 12% with general practitioner referrals). They also point to a recent study showing that most patients are not experiencing a significant choice in appointment time, date, or hospital.

“Choose and book has failed to achieve its main goal of improving patients’ satisfaction and attendance,” write the authors.

“Moreover, it creates an unnecessary economic burden on the health system and jeopardises the prioritisation process by removing clinicians from the process.”