The British Medical Association said today the NHS's Choose and Book system is unfit for purpose and actually limits choice for patients.
Doctors at the BMA's annual general meeting voted for an investigation into the impact Choose and Book was having on referrals. The system is part of the National Programme for IT and, in theory, should allow doctors to quickly and electronically book patient appointments with specialists. BMA members described the system as politically motivated and designed to help meet targets.
But doctors held back from calling for a suspension of the controversial system.
One consultant told the conference that he rejects about half of Choose and Book appointments because they do not match his skills or are for patients already being cared for by colleagues.
But other attendees blamed the way Primary Care Trusts implement Choose and Book for the problems, not the system itself.
The BMA's acting chairman, Sam Everington, said: “What a sorry state the NHS IT system is in. Estimated costs of upward of £20bn, interminable delays, the chaotic shambles that is Choose and Book, growing concerns about patient confidentiality and security – it’s a wonderful exercise in how not to do things. Little wonder then that even Richard Granger has decided it is time he left the IT sinking ship!”, according to Computer Weekly.