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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Does Choose & Book fail to deliver the expected choice to patients? A survey of patients' experience of outpatient appointment booking

Judith Green1, Zoe McDowall1 and Henry WW Potts2*

Author Affiliations

1 The Hillingdon Hospital, Pield Heath Road, Uxbridge, UB8 3NN, UK

2 CHIME, University College London, Whittington Campus, Highgate Hill, London, N19 5LW, UK

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BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2008, 8:36  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-36

Published: 1 August 2008



Choose and Book is a central part of the UK Government patient choice agenda that seeks to provide patients with a choice over the time, date and place of their first outpatient appointment. This is done through the use of a computerised booking system. After a 2004 pilot study, Choose and Book was formally launched in January 2006. This is the first study of patient experience of Choose and Book since then.


A questionnaire survey of reported experience of choice over the time, data and place of appointment, carried out in a National Health Service hospital in London. 104 patients at their first outpatient appointment completed the questionnaire, consisting of a consecutive series of patients referred through Choose and Book and a sample referred through the conventional booking system.


Among the Choose and Book patients, 66% (31/47; 95% CI 52 to 78%) reported not being given a choice of appointment date, 66% (31/47; 95% CI 52 to 78%) reported not being given a choice of appointment time, 86% (37/43; 95% CI 74 to 94%) reported being given a choice of fewer than four hospitals in total and 32% (15/47; 95% CI 20 to 46%) reported not being given any choice of hospital.


In this study, patients did not experience the degree of choice that Choose and Book was designed to deliver.