Choose and Book denies cancer patient an appointment, saying he's dead

The danger of wrong data on an NPfIT system: a man with cancer couldn’t make an appointment because a local Choose and Book system showed he was dead.

The Daily Mail reports the story under the headline:

“Sorry, you can’t have an appointment… you’re dead: Hospital refuses to see cancer sufferer because he’s deceased.”

At first glance the story could be vaguely amusing – if you’re not the man involved; and if you ignore the fact that the government is continuing with uploads of incorrect data to NPfIT systems.

A report by University College London is due to be published tomorrow which will highlight inconsistencies, omissions and inaccuracies in data uploaded to the BT-run Summary Care Record database. The uploads will continue despite the well-informed criticisms of the scheme in the report.

The report’s research was led by  Professor Trisha Greenhalgh who spoke with force and authority at the Smartgov conference in London yesterday. She criticised the government for continuing with the summary care records without taking any notice of what’s in her team’s report. This is despite taxpayers having spent nearly £1m on the Greenhalgh-led SCR research.

Summary of the Daily Mail story:

Alan Campbell rang a local Choose and Book helpline for an appointmentbecause he was concerned that cancer might have spread to his throat.

Campbell had seen his GP who had given him a Choose and Book Unique Booking Reference Number.

When he rang the helpline a telephone operator said the systemshowed him as “deceased”.

The operator insisted that Campbell go back to his GP to “sort it out”.But the delay in a diagosis could make matters worse.

The 63-year-old widower from Little Harwood, Blackburn said: “Itis unbelievable that they could get something like this so wrong.”

He added: “I’m not one for complaining, but when somebody says you’redead its not on.”

The story doesn’t end there. Campbell – who has survived a stroke and a heartattack – tried to sort it out with his doctor and was told the problemhad been resolved. But when he phoned the Choose and Book service againhe was told he was still dead.

Campbell pointed out that he was alive and asked for an appointment but the operator argued repeatedlywith him.

NHS Blackburn told the Daily Mail  it was trying to find anappointment as early as possible for Campbell.

Janice Horrocks, executive director of Engagement Partnerships andOperational Development, said:

‘We would like to reassure patients that using the Choose and Booksystem, which allows you to choose the hospital, time and date of yourappointment, remains the fastest route to getting the quickest and mostconvenient hospital appointment for the care that you need.”


Thank you to GP Neil Bhatia for forwarding the D Mail story