'Choose and book' software

'Choose and book' software first went live in July 2004. The NHS Plan in 2000 committed to introducing electronic booking of appointments for patient treatment by 2005.

The scope of the project was later expanded to facilitate patient choice. 'Choose and book' allowed patients to book appointments electronically and to select a choice of place (initially up to four providers), time and date for a first appointment.

The scope of providers available expanded over time but take-up was initially slower than had been expected. The Department of Health had set a target for 90% of GP referrals to be undertaken via choose and book by 31 March 2007. However, the actual percentage was only 38%.

Research has suggested that choose and book had been technologically unwieldy and inefficient. Some healthcare professionals felt that the technology undermined their clinical judgements.

The researchers also suggested that there had been a mismatch between the model of clinical work that underpinned the policy maker's view of choice and that of real-world clinical practice. It could also be argued that the choice of four providers was actually a reduction compared to the freer choices available before the abolition of 'extra-contractual referrals' by the government in 1999.

Source(s)

Department of Health.
The NHS Plan: a plan for investment, a plan for reform.
HMSO; 2000.

House of Commons.
HC Deb 2 Apr 2008: Column 1131W.
Hansard; 2008.

Greenhalgh T, Stones R, Swinglehurst D.
Choose and Book: a sociological analysis of 'resistance' to an expert system.
Social Science and Medicine.
2014; 104: 210–219.