NHS missing e-booking targets

The National Health Service (NHS) has admitted only 50 per cent of hospital outpatient referrals are made through its new electronic appointment booking system.

The government has wanted GPs to put at least 90 per cent of such appointments through the Choose and Book system by the time it was delivered by contractor Atos Origin last March.

Then, only 37 per cent of outpatient referrals were booked through the system, but GP usage levels have remained static lower than targets ever since, according to Connecting for Health (CfH), the agency responsible for the NHS's National Programme for IT (NPfIT).

It did say, however, that every hospital and 93 per cent of GP practices in England were now using the Choose and Book system overall, where some primary care trusts offering financial incentives to participating GPs.

CfH stated that the 90 per cent target remains, although it has no deadline by which to achieve it.

It added that its recent upgrade of the system was designed to "greatly streamline" it and improve its usability around functionality like full screen displays, attachment descriptions and 'directory of service' screens.

The agency also said it had added a new page to the Choose and Book website that would link its users to information about its status, availability and maintenance, as well as provide access to training resources and the opportunity for feedback.

It is also gearing up to introduce functionality to make it easier for GPs to find specialist services for patient referral as part of the next system upgrade, currently scheduled to begin in mid-2009.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.