Although the Minister's announcement of a new supersite supporting patient choice is something to look forward to, personal experience of the system leaves deep misgivings about just how effectively a web based service will work with a paper-based mind set.
My GP indeed tried to book online during a recent surgery visit but gave up after 3 attempts muttering that he now has no choice about who he recommends and would write to his MP. He said a letter would arrive the next week (snail mail). When letter arrived with password and choice of 3 hospitals (none of which could offer a simple diagnostic check within 10 weeks) I simply went online to book the earliest available date.
Within a further 2 weeks the said hospital had phoned my GP cancelling the appointment (so much for using the new online service) and requesting me to call and rebook. Three phone calls later and a further bout of snail mail and I had an even later appointment.
Not quite joined up technology Ms.Hewitt. I suspect it will take more than a mega website to make Choice a practical reality. In contrast, a more recent contact with a private diagnosics and outpatients centre confirmed that the test that took 12 weeks, 6 phone calls, 3 emails and 3 letters to arrange and rearrange, could be handled on site within 2 hours.
Peter Valler, director, Medilink