NHS Choose and Book gets new chief as uptake stalls

NHS Connecting for Health has appointed a new head for its Choose and Book programme - the second senior appointment in two months – as new figures show uptake of the hospital appointment booking system has virtually stalled.

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NHS Connecting for Health has appointed a new head for its Choose and Book programme - the second senior appointment in two months – as new figures show uptake of the hospital appointment booking system has virtually stalled.

Guy Dickie, formerly e-prescribing programme manager and prison health IT programme manager at Connecting for Health, will now head work on Choose and Book - a flagship component of the NHS’s £12.4bn National Programme for IT (NPfIT).

Dickie’s appointment follows that of Dr Stephen Miller as medical director for the programme in July as Connecting for Health attempts to increase uptake of the Choose and Book system among reluctant GPs.

September figures show that Choose and Book was used for “over 40%” of NHS referral activity from GP surgery to first outpatient appointment. In July, Connecting for Health put the figure at “nearly 40%” – up from 37% in April, but still less than half the Department of Health’s 90% target.

The British Medical Association highlighted doctors’ unhappiness with the Choose and Book computer system in a recent letter raising a series of concerns about NPfIT with health minister Ben Bradshaw. The BMA called on the government to work with it on “continuing issues” with Choose and Book.

Connecting for Health said Dickie’s role would see him “working with clinicians and the NHS to make Choose and Book the everyday method for referring patients”.

Dickie said: "Whilst we aim to increase Choose and Book utilisation, what is equally important is the need to stay focused on listening to clinicians and NHS front-line staff, so that each new release of Choose and Book reflects the needs of users.”

The new programme head has worked in the NHS since 2003, when he joined as a service redesign manager at East Leeds primary care trust. He later stepped up to become head of commissioning at Leeds North East PCT, where he drove uptake of Choose and Book by GPs in the area.

Dickie, previously an army captain, replaces Tom Denwood, who has been seconded to work on a Connecting for Health project with the DoH.

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