Choose and Book, the NHS electronic appointments system that allows patients to choose between hospitals, has made 10 million bookings.
The news comes days after a University College London report said the system, part of the £12.7 billion NHS National Programme for IT, was failing to give patients the promised four choices of hospital and time. The NHS moved quickly to say that report was outdated and claimed 67 percent of patients are able to go to the hospital they choose.
Uptake of Choose and Book, which allows patients to make the choice online, by phone or at their GP surgery, has increased quickly in recent months, having been at only five million bookings a year ago. But it still only represents around half of outpatient referral bookings.
Dr Stephen Miller, Choose and Book national medical director, said the milestone was important “because it gives a clear indication that Choose and Book is making good progress in becoming the NHS’s everyday method of referral”.
Meanwhile, the Department for Health recently appointed an NHS chief information officer and a head of Connecting for Health, the agency delivering the national IT programme. The move came over six months after the departure of Richard Granger and marked a split in two of the NHS CIO role.
A report in the Observer newspaper said that technical problems with the much delayed electronic care records systems had left hospitals struggling to keep track of patients and operations, and meant staff had to manually update large amounts of information.
The first London rollout of the new version of the Cerner Millennium care records system, which went live in June at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, also caused “chaos” according to local paper the Camden New Journal.