Published on 29/03/2012
The Department of Health is investigating a shock fall in the number of GP referrals made through Choose and Book.
Choose and Book is a national electronic referral service which gives NHS patients a choice of place, date and time for their first outpatient appointment in a hospital- a level of choice usually reserved for those with private medical insurance. Through the service, NHS patients can choose any hospital in England funded by the NHS.
But the Department of Health is now investigating a huge drop in the proportion of GP referrals from the Choose and Book service. Despite the Government’s national target of 90 per cent, the referral rate has now fallen from a high two years ago of 57 per cent to 50 per cent in January 2012.
The fall comes after the removal of the Choose and Book service in many areas of the country.
More than a third of trusts offering Choose and Book removed payments in 2010/11.
Recent performance reports from NHS Trusts highlight the slump across England. NHS Harrow classified Choose and Book as ‘failing’. Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire PCTs classified Choose and Book as ‘failing and worsening’ in February board papers.
NHS Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield's report said Choose and Book figures were ‘stagnating' across the whole cluster and identified ‘serious deviation from target' and that ‘corrective action plan was required'.
Referring to the national fall, a DH spokesperson said: ‘There may be a number of reasons for this, including changes in GP funding to use Choose and Book.'
Changes in GP funding look set to continue as the Health and Social Care Bill becomes law, and GPs take control of most of the NHS budget.
© ActiveQuote Health Ltd. 2012Categories: NHS and Hospitals