What is Choose and Book?
Choose and Book is the new system for the NHS designed for patients to easily choose which health provider you can be referred to. This is usually for a hospital appointment; although in some cases it may be for another type of provider too. It allows you to choose which hospital you would like to go to for your first appointment to see a specialist.
What is different about Choose and Book?
In the past you would have been told that you are being referred to the hospital without knowing where you are being referred or when. Now your doctor can use Choose and Book to inform you about which hospitals you can go to and even book an appointment for you during your consultation so that you leave knowing which hospital you are going to, what day and what time the appointment will be.
What happens when the doctor decides to refer you to the hospital or other provider on Choose and Book?
Once the doctor has decided to refer you to the hospital (or other provider on Choose and Book), he will open up a new window on his computer called Choose and Book. He will determine whether the appointment is for a 2 week cancer referral, an urgent appointment or a routine appointment. He will then use a drop down menu to choose a specialty eg general surgery and then a clinic type eg hernia. He will then ask the website to show all hospitals and other service providers that have appointments available for that particular clinic type. These are listed in distance order from your home postcode. You can then choose which place you would consider going to. He can then show you when the next available appointments are including date and time. You can choose an appointment there and then. He can then confirm the booking and print the booking for you.
What does a booking form look like?
You can see an example form if you click here. It shows your name and your Unique Booking Reference Number (UBRN). You will need this if you need to change the appointment in the future. You can also see the date and time of the appointment and any special instructions on what to do for the appointment. You can also see how you can change the appointment eg by telephoning the service, going on-line etc. On the next page there is also your unique password. You will need this as well if you decide to change your appointment as well as your UBRN.
Do I need to do anything after I have the appointment booked with a certain department and at a certain time?
The doctor who has booked the appointment for you will confirm that the appointment has been booked and give the form. You do not need to do anything now other than turn up to the appointment (and any other instructions it may say on the form). That is the easiest thing to do.
Do I have to choose an appointment as soon as I am offered a choice?
No, you don't have to choose an appointment immediately. You can simply ask to choose a range of hospitals that you would consider going to and then book the appointment later if you like. If you are no sure which hospital to go to then just ask if you could book this later. The doctor will give you a similar form to the one above but with instructions on how to book your appointment. IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT YOU BOOK YOUR APPOINTMENT LATER. If you forget then somebody from the NHS may contact you by phone to remind you.
How can you book an appointment later?
As long as your doctor has booked what clinic type you need to go to, you will be able to book your appointment later. You can do this by phoning the Access, Booking and Choice centre
(if you are a patient in Tameside & Glossop), or going on-line via www.healthspace.nhs.uk
Booking the appointment on-line gives you the greatest flexibility because you can carefully see all the appointments that are available, look at other websites (see below) that give you more information and you can also see your own diary or ask your family before you book the appointment instead of doing it there and then with the doctor.
How can you decide which hospital (or other service provider) to go to?
There are a number of factors that you may wish to take into account when deciding where to go to. You may choose the closest provider which may be the most convenient for you or the one your doctor recommends based on his experience. You may wish to consider your own past experience of services or that of others such as other family or friends. Hospitals and other providers are always in the news but remember you rarely hear about all the good things that happen - only when a terrible thing has happened and everybody gets to hear about it! You could look at www.patientopinion.org.uk
to see what others have said about different places or look at information via the NHS Choices
website to see how different hospitals / providers are doing. An alternative might be to look at the particular problem and see what places offer the service
to help you decide what is best for you. Remember it is YOUR choice to decide where you go but your doctor can help you to decide what is best for you. But once you have chosen your hospital, all subsequent appointments will be in that hospital including any tests that you need doing too.
What is the difference between a hospital and other providers?
Traditionally patients have always been referred from the GP to a hospital of your choice. Recently a number of other types of services have also been set up which allow greater choice and allow expert advice to be sought sooner and closer to home in alternative places other than the hospital. These include "Tier 2 services", GPs with a special interest providing services for patients other than their own and most recently the Greater Manchester NHS Clinical Assessment & Treatment Service. Alternative providers are able to offer specific services other than operations that require a general anaesthetic (which can only be offered in a hospital setting). Your GP will be able to inform you whether you could go to one of these alternative providers when you are being referred.
What happens if my preferred hospital provider does not have an available appointment?
The Choose and Book system has been designed to offer patients a better experience of the NHS. This means that hospitals must be able to offer an appointment within 13 weeks of the decision to refer otherwise they cannot be chosen. Your doctor is unable to create an appointment for you if it does not exist. In these circumstances you ought to choose another hospital that can offer an appointment within 13 weeks.
What happens if the computer system goes down and your doctor is unable to book an appointment for you?
Don't worry - your doctor wil still go ahead and dictate a referral letter. He may well ask what your preferred options would have been eg what hospitals you would prefer to go to. The secretary will generate the booking referral form for you later and then send it in the post so that you receive it a couple of days later. You will then be able to book the appointment yourself as described above, You can always ring our secretary if you have any further questions. Our receptionists are also always at hand to help too.
Where can I learn more about Choose and Book?
Watch the video of Dr Hannan taken from the NHS Choices website describing the benefits of Choose and Book and why other patients are benefiting from it. You can also see Yvonne Bennett, a patient at the practice, describing the benefits of booking her appointment on-line. You can also click here to give you further information about Choose and Book.
What else can you do to ensure you get the best service possible from the NHS?
Your GP will have referred you after careful thought and consideration based on your past medical history, examination findings and perhaps tests and investigations that have been carried out. Whilst your doctor will write a letter describing the salient facts, sometimes there may be other information in your medical record that may be relevant and which has not been put in the referral letter. Sometimes there are further developments after the referral letter has gone which mean that the information the doctor has is out of date. That is why we encourage all patients who are being referred to the hospital or are already going to the hospital for other reasons to have access to their own electronic health records so that that you can provide the doctor or nurse at the hospital the most up-to-date information. You can learn more about accessing your electronic health records by clicking here as well as speaking to one of the receptionists.
Also after your appointment and especially if you subsequently get admitted into hospital, do remember to describe your experience on patient opinion
so that others can also benefit from this and so that the hospital is aware of when things happen well and when they could be better.