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Research Paper Open Access
Background The partial booking (PB) outpatient appointment system was introduced by the Department of Health in 1999 into NHS trusts with outpatient waiting times of over 13 weeks. With PB, patients have the opportunity to choose a convenient outpatient appointment date. Failure to do so results in automatic removal from the PB system, with no appointment issued.Aims Since the implementation of PB, 10% of all new outpatient referrals to a single ophthalmic department have failed to result in an appointment. We conducted a study to analyse if ophthalmic referrals have been inappropriately removed from the PB system.Method Randomised telephone survey of outpatient referrals that failed to result in an appointment.Setting Ophthalmology outpatient department in a district general hospital.Results Seventy patients were recruited into our study, of whom 35% were referred for possible cataract or glaucoma. Forty-nine patients were contactable by telephone. Twenty-four percent of these were not aware that they had been referred for a specialist opinion. Fifty-three percent felt that the symptoms that prompted the original referral were still present. Thirty-nine percent did notrecall receiving any letters from the hospital inviting them to choose an appointment date. Eighteen (37%) of the contactable patients felt that they still required another appointment.Conclusions A signiÃ Â½ cant number of patients still required an outpatient appointment despite being removed from the partial booking system. We believe there are ? aws in the partial booking system, principally due to the manner in which it is implemented by the individual NHS trusts.
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Author(s): Sui Chien Wong
Innovative primary care, Primary care medicines, Advanced concepts in primary care