Choose and Book
The Electronic Booking Service - known as Choose and Book - allows GPs to make hospital appointments at a convenient time and place for patients.
Find out more about the 10 key NHS IT projects
♦  NHS Care Records Service
♦  Choose and Book
♦  The Electronic Prescription Service
♦  N3 national broadband network
♦  Picture Archiving and Communications System (Pacs)
♦  The Spine
♦  The Quality Management and Analysis System
♦  GP2GP record transfer
♦  NHSmail- a central email and directory service for the NHS
♦  Secondary Uses Service
When patients need to be referred to a consultant, Choose and Book allows them to book the appointment on the spot with their GP. Alternatively, they can do it online or on the phone.
The system aims to cut the lengthy delays, often lasting weeks, between visiting the GP and receiving an appointment from a hospital.
Patients can choose to go to any hospital in the UK and the system is geared around allowing patients to choose their outpatient appointment according to their own priorities – whether that is the first available date, the hospital closest to their home, or fitting their appointment around their family or work commitments.
CfH recently upgraded Choose and Book to streamline its interface and the way rejected bookings, work lists and reports are dealt with by the system. A second upgrade in mid-2009 will make it easier for users to search for services.
Bookings can now also be made over the NHS personalised online health portal HealthSpace.
The NHS is also combining its NHS Choices and NHS Direct websites under the www.nhs.uk address to provide a "front door" to all online health information services.
What progress so far?
The system has now been used to make 11.5 million appointments and is racking up 28,000 bookings a day but this is far below the original forecast of 39 million by January 2008.
All NHS hospitals are now using Choose and Book and 93 per cent of GP practices use the service to refer their patients to hospital.
Choose and Book is also being used for about 50 per cent of NHS referral activity from GP surgery to first outpatient appointment.
Within the NHS however there is wide variation in utilisation rates between primary care trusts, ranging from over 90 per cent to below 20 per cent.