NHS extends electronic booking contract

Chosen and Booked

Chosen and Booked

The Department of Health has extended its contract with tech services company Atos Origin to run and continue the rollout of the online patient referral system, Choose and Book.

The deal extends an existing five-year contract with Atos Healthcare which was signed in 2003.

Atos Healthcare will continue to work with healthcare technology company Cerner. The two companies designed and developed the Choose and Book service and have managed it since it was first delivered in July 2004.

By January 2008 around 11.5 million patients had used the technology but this is way below the original forecast of 39 million.

According to the NHS, more than 50 per cent of referrals are now made using Choose and Book which is aimed at reducing the time taken for referral appointments to be made and allowing patients to choose the most convenient appointments.

All NHS hospitals and 93 per cent of GP practices now use the service to refer patients to hospital. However there is a huge difference in rates of use among primary care trusts, ranging from below 20 per cent to 90 per cent.

Recent research by the British Medical Association suggests medical professionals are still struggling to get to grips with Choose and Book, with reliability and slowness both proving problematic.