Saturday, 21 April 2007

Choose and Book

This letter appeared in the Daily Telegraph yesterday; it says it all

NHS computer flawsSir - Recently, I came up against the full might of our proud nation's new NHS computer system (Letters, April 19). We all, our dear leader tells us, want choice. I was offered "Choose and Book", which is supposedly a part of the system that is actually beginning to work.

I was given a password and went as instructed to nhs.healthspace.

That was the first problem. I use a browser that is chosen by all who have tried it in preference to the one that comes with the computer. But although the NHS began working on its system in the past century, it is still under construction. The first response I got was that the system could not cope with my decent browser.

So I downloaded the old-fashioned browser. Did that help? Not a lot.

"Choose and book your appointment," it said on top of the document that I was given at the local surgery. But as soon as I tried, the NHS website went into a sulk from which it never recovered.

Nothing was having any effect. So I resorted to the telephone. A surprisingly cheerful woman explained, as though to a toddler, that I could get no further because there were no appointments.

What none at all? At any of the hospitals within a day's train ride? None at all. If there is no such thing as an appointment, it was not very polite of the NHS to offer the temptation to try to get an appointment. It hardly seems like £12 billion well spent.

John Ticehurst, Chard, Somerset