11,000+ patients 'missing'29th May 2006
Just under 5% of the 260,000 referrals that have been logged under the new Choose and Book initiative "have been lost to the system," Hospital Doctor reports.
Under the new Choose and Book system, patients are given a unique booking reference number from GPs which they can then use on line or by phone to book their appointments for more specialist care. A quarter of a million appointments have been booked under the system to date but the Department of Health admitted that around 11,600 patients who have received reference numbers still have not booked appointments, despite being sent reminder letters.
This could be, the Department of Health said, because some patients have not yet identified a convenient time for their appointment or because they have decided they no longer want the specialist referral. But that is unlikely to account for all the missing bookings and a BMA spokesman has called on the DoH to fund independent research to establish why patients were not booking their appointments. The concern is that, although Choose and Book aimed to cut down the number of "Did Not Attends" (DNAs), it has simply moved these patients "to another point in the system".
"Some doctors have dubbed the service 'Choose and Lose' as a result." But a representative for the Choose and Book programme pointed out that the system now knows that these patients are not going to attend so hospitals won't expect them.
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Title: 11,000+ patients 'missing'
Author: Chris May
Article Id: 351
Date Added: 29th May 2006