§ Lord Wedderburn of Charlton
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether, in the light of their advice in 2003–04 on ways to introduce better systems of booking National Health Service appointments and their definition of partial booking, they are satisfied with the methods of partial booking used in London for National Health Service patients referred to consultants by general practitioners, in particular when such patients are given a non-definite waiting time, such as three months or more. [HI1531]
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner)
The Department of Health is not aware of any methods of partial booking in London that are inconsistent with national policy.
Partial booking was introduced as an interim measure, which recognised that, for some specialties, there were long waits that made it impractical for both the National Health Service and the patient to hook an appointment at the time of the referral decision. Under partial booking systems, patients are advised of the approximate waiting time at the time of referral and are then contacted approximately four to six weeks in advance to choose a time and date for their appointment or admission.
As waiting times continue to fall, we expect more appointments to be booked at the time of the referral decision. With the introduction of the electronic choose and book system, all patients referred by their general practitioner for an outpatient appointment will have the opportunity to make an appointment at the time of referral.