A website has been launched to allow outpatient appointments to be booked online. Initially the service will only be available to GPs, but by the end of 2005 patients will be able to book appointments through the Internet. Patients will be able to choose a convenient place, date and time for their initial hospital appointment. By the end of 2005 they will have the choice of four or five hospitals. It is also planned to introduce a telephone booking service.Some healthcare communities in London and the North East will introduce the service in the summer of 2004. Others will adopt the Choose and Book service throughout the rest of 2004 and 2005.
The Choose and Book service is a major element of the NHS National Programme for Information Technology. Other features of the programme include the Care Records Service and the electronic transmission of prescriptions.