Choose and Book problems: up to 340 patients affected since Friday

Problems with the Choose and Book system – part of the NHS’s National Programme for IT – have led to more than 300 patients receiving wrong appointments since Friday 11 April 2008.

In many cases appointments went to the wrong people. This meant that patients turned up for appointments at hospitals and clinics and found that they’d wasted their time because they were not expected, or patients were not advised of the correct appointments. The problems were spotted on Friday 11 April 2008.

The cause of the problem is still being investigated, and the same software is still in use, so it’s unclear whether technicians have been able to stop the incorrect appointments being made.

The Choose and Book system is designed to allow patients and doctors to book hospital appointments online at a time and location of choice. Before, hospitals noticed patients by letter of their appointments.

As a result of the problems NHS Connecting for Health, which runs part of the National Programme for IT [NPfIT] has said that a new release of Choose and Book software, version 4.0 was postponed. It had been due to be installed last weekend.

The software would have allowed patients and doctors to book online at any hospital of their choosing in or outside the local area.

NHS Connecting for Health, which runs part of the NPfIT, has been open about the difficulties. Many times in the past it has been defensive and vague when answering questions about difficulties with aspects of the NPfIT.

A spokesman for NHS Connecting for Health said the indications are that only a small number of patients have been affected – up to 340 – since Friday. The system has handled millions of hospital appointments. All patients known to have been given the wrong information are being contacted.

CfH said in a statement:

“The programme continues to run on the current 3.6 release while NHS CFH works closely with Choose and Book’s principal supplier and their sub- contractors to resolve the issue affecting a relatively small number of patient bookings.”

In the absence of Release 4.0 of Choose and Book, patients can choose a suitable hospital outside their local area for an appointment, but by GPs sending letters rather than booking online.


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