IT PROGRAMME

Published: 06/10/2005 Volume 115 No. 5976 Page 11

Strategic health authorities have been asked to review choose and book plans after it emerged that not one primary care trust is likely to meet its next target for the project.

The latest hiccup for the electronic booking service was revealed in an e-mail sent by Department of Health director of access Margaret Edwards to SHA chief executives.

PCTs had been offered a£100,000 incentive if they could show half of referrals in October for first outpatient appointments had been made through choose and book. The DoH had originally set a target that all appointments be made electronically by December.

Ms Edwards' e-mail acknowledges that no PCT will be able to claim the£100,000 bonus, but ruled out changes to the scheme.

'We should leave the second choose and book incentive payment unchanged. This means it is unlikely to be achieved by any PCT, but changing it would be more damaging.' She added: 'We would have to significantly reduce the threshold and extend the time period, reducing credibility for future incentives.' Only 8,130 bookings have been made to date, and if systems are not operational GPs will have to make bookings manually.

A DoH spokesperson said: 'Returns from SHAs have indicated that they anticipate delivering over 80 per cent of bookings through choose and book by the end of December, though we are asking them to review their plans.'