Choose and Book

Patient choice

Since 2008, patients registered with an English GP have had the right to choose their hospital. With a very few exceptions where there is clinical urgency (such as suspected cancer referrals under the 2 week rule) or issues about continuity of care (such as maternity or mental health) patients can choose any clinically appropriate provider, including many independent sector hospitals.

 A range of new services will shortly be going live as part of the Any Qualified Provider initiative – look out for more news on this shortly.

The NHS Choices website www.nhs.uk is a valuable source of information for referrers and patients alike. NHS Choices enables users to compare hospitals against a range of measures from infection rates to car parking charges

Choose and Book
Recent developments in Choose and Book include:

  • Referrers can search more quickly and effectively for suitable services using SNOMED clinical terms rather than by specialty
  • Referrals can be made to a specific named Consultant team
  • Most services offer Advice and Guidance via Choose and Book
  • Choose and Book now shows providers’ performance against the 18 week Referral to Treatment target, to help patients and GPs make informed choices

What’s coming next is:

  • Choose and Book for suspected cancer 2 week wait referrals
  • Choose and Book for a wider range of diagnostic and therapy services
  • Providers ensuring that at least 95% of patients can find a suitable appointment straight away


Benefits of Choose and Book
Choose and Book was first rolled out over seven years ago as part of the National Programme for IT. A re-procurement known as “CAB2G” is already in progress and the system remains high on the national agenda. Increasing stress is being placed on the value of Choose and Book as a source of information and as a tool for commissioners.

Early roll out was dogged by problems which has contributed to negative perceptions of the system, which persist even though Choose and Book has been through major upgrades and is now generally accepted to be safe, robust, reliable and resilient.

Choose and Book can, however, only work effectively when GP clinical systems, provider PAS systems and the national spine are also functioning effectively. Choose and Book also relies on human interfaces – whether between patient and GP or practice staff, patient and provider or patient and the national Appointment Line.

For these reasons, Choose and Book is a complex and dynamic system and the CCG will be ensure that we have the capacity and skills to ensure that Choose and Book users are supported and that utilisation continues to grow.

Benefits for patients and GP practices

  • More information about services and provider organisations to support informed choice
  • Reliable, auditable transmission of referral information
  • No risk of delays due to fax or postal problems
  • Ability to check progress of referral/booking through the system

Benefits for providers -  including GP practices who act as providers

  • Reliable, auditable transmission of referral information
  • No delays due to fax or postal problems
  • Move towards being paper light/paperless
  • Move towards a single referral and booking process
  • Save money on paper, printing, scanning, filing
  • Hit contractual targets and avoid financial penalties 

Benefits for CCGs

  • All the above plus:
  • A source of data to better understand GP referral behaviour, referral quality and demand for elective care
  • A tool to manage elective referrals in a timely and effective way

Help, support and advice
Any technical Choose and Book or Smartcard issues should be logged as follows:

 The IT Helpdesk is based at Corunna Court, Warwick on 01926 626200 (option 1).

 The Smartcard Team is based at Warwick Hospital and can be contacted as follows:

Other sources of help and support
The national website www.chooseandbook.nhs.uk provides news, performance information and training materials including detailed “how to” User Manuals and e-learning.

The Referral Support Service team based at Christchurch House 03000 200013 also provide Choose and Book advice, support, training and troubleshooting for GPs and practice staff across Coventry and Rugby.

The team’s intranet and website pages are currently being revised but in the meantime don’t hesitate to call the team, who will be happy to help.

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