Might 'Choose and Book' be of help to you?

A fellow member alerted me to the following service:

'Choose and Book - If you have been referred by your GP for an appointment with a healthcare provider, you may be able to book your appointment with Choose and Book. Most services are available via Choose and Book. You can choose the date and time of your appointment and your GP may be able to book your appointment there and then.'


In order to use this service you will have had to acquire a reference number and password from your GP.

Has anyone had any experiences, good or bad, with this service?

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46 Replies

  • The idea sounds good and I have looked into this but never used it. The endo I wanted to transfer to had a national health waiting list of over 6 months long. I would assume it to be the same for any endo who has a good reputation. This kind of defeats the object as the reason to change would be because you are dissatisfied with present treatment/service and feeling extremely ill so to have to wait for over 6 months for an initial appointment that may not even live up to your expectations, is just not feasible.

  • All true, I suppose the only way to find out if it would be beneficial is to try it out. If no joy, back to the old method : )

  • I had a good experience but only because I had found an endo that prescribed NDT, sadly he is not allowed to prescribe to new patients any more.

  • That's interesting Glynisrose. Are no NHS endos allowed to prescribe NDT to NHS patients? How about private endos to private patients? By the way, if you have a need, it is possible to purchase NDT online from reputable sources.

  • I've just had one of these. I had the choice of two haematologists, one of which had already been consulted by my GP who is trying to convince everybody that I don't need any investigation into B12 deficiency.

    So in essense, the only choice was Hobson's!

  • Hi Hypopotamus, did the GP allow you a B12 test, and was it low? You could, as I'm sure you know, buy your own B12 supplements/injections. But I'm guessing you want an investigation into why you are so low on B12?

  • My test result was in the 'normal' range while I was taking B12 supplements. I stopped taking them while awaiting further investigation, and six months later, without any supplements, the next test showed that my levels had doubled!

    Having waited seven months with no sign of an appointment I went back on the supplements at the end of last year as I was feeling so low without them (I'm a veggie in my mid 60's).

    Following a complaint to NHS England (where they sided with the GP) I have finally got an appointment after threatening to go to the health ombudsman. I have an appointment for June, 13 months after asking for one!

  • Hi Hypopotamus, without supplementing your B12 doubled?

  • Yes - so much for blood tests! The B12 test is known to be very unreliable anyway, but if a GP can't say the word 'normal' at least 20 times in a day, they apparently shrivel up and turn into snails.

  • Hi Hypopotamus, Jan 14 mine was: serum B12 260 ng/l (190 - 663). Serum folate 8.1 ug/l (4.60-18.70). GP completely unconcerned. After supplement B12 injections and folate capsules, in Sept 14: serum B12 1999 ng/l and folate 20. GP had a fit. But I believe B12 level readings go haywire after b12 injections, but that doesn't relate to your active b12 levels. Someone described GP's as the gate-keepers, which I thought very apt.

  • My surgery used choose and book. From what I remember, my treatment started in 2012 I had an option on a few hospitals in the area.

    I don't remember being able to choose a particular endo though and I still had to wait three months for my appointment to come through. Perhaps it wasn't the full 'choose and book' arrangement.

    A letter came through with the password etc, I had to call the number and make my own appointment.

    Also I'm pretty sure there was some sort of limit on the number of times you could rearrange your appointment - might have been twice, if you changed the time more than that I think you had to go back to your GP and start all over again.

    That wasn't a problem for me - I felt so ill wild horses wouldn't have kept me from my appointment.

  • Thank you Fruitandnutcase, very helpful. 3 months isn't too long as some can wait 6 months, my endo referal via GP came in about a month, but he was very unhelpful. I wonder if it's a new way of getting through us and rid of us quickly?!?!

  • That was my experience too.When I enquired about T3 medication,my GP had no knowledge of it and said he would refer me to see an endocrinologist.I asked to see someone recommended to me and my GP agreed to that .As Fruit and Nutcase has said ....I then received a letter with a password and booked my own appointment.

    Now ,each time I see my Endo I'm given a form to take to reception and book my next appointment. .......all very straight forward.

  • Thank you marfit, very helpful.

  • Suppose it depends on whether you are hyper or hypo. With hyper, I think they have to do something and fairly quickly or they did with me. My go started me on carbimazole and my endo monitored it from afar while I waited. My personal feeling is that it is much more difficult fir people who are hypo to get what they need.

    I became under active during my treatment and felt very unwell which is why I don't want to be given RAI should I relapse and become hyper again. I think that is a way of getting rid of you back to your GP who may or may not get you sorted out.

    I don't feel confident (just my own personal opinion😊) that I would be given enough Levo to keep me feeling well and I don't think (again my own observation) the NHS really go in for 'fine tuning' their thyroid patients, as long as you are 'in the range' that's fine, whether or not the point you are at in the range is the best place for you to be to feel well seems to be immaterial.

    Just seen marfit's response, I also got the note to take to reception after each visit, was also given a form to take to my GP surgery a week before my next appointment with details of my next blood test, the bloods would be drawn and off I went to the endo a week

    After where I was told the results ( mainly because I always asked and wrote them down in my trusty little notebook)

  • So that's the answer to getting help, be hyper not hypo : ) Hypo they tend to ignore/dismiss despite fatigue symptoms over several years and very over range TSH, but if not as high as the magic 10, your done for!!!

    I guess they don't have the time or patience to fine tune, they don't seem to consider it a serious condition after all!!

  • That's only my personal opinion based on my own experience and what I see on here where do many hypo people are left suffering - I could be wrong.

  • I only have experience/knowledge of hypo results and symptoms being ignored for years, despite high (7 then 8) tsh with fatigue symptoms I complained of regularly. Had no idea my tsh was so high until 8 years later when I insisted on printed blood test results. Seems this is not uncommon going from what I read on here re: hypo. I never read the hyper contributions to the forum though.

  • I've used Choose and Book for referrals to endos and thyroid eye specialists, mainly because my GP saw this as a way of saving her time by putting the onus of researching a suitable specialist onto me. She was willing to use it to refer to any NHS specialist though.

    Results have been mixed. I have seen the specialists I chose, but have had to wait a long time (up to 18 months) for first appointments. I also have an ongoing problem with repeat appointments (told on the day none available, so will be sent in the post, sometimes have to ring to chase, and have been sent a couple of threatening letters telling me I've missed appointments that have never been sent to me!)

    More seriously, I only found out while being wheeled into the operating theatre for eye decompression surgery that the consultant I had carefully researched, chosen and booked - and had my consultations with - was not even going to be present!

    So in summary I've found it useful for getting to see particular specialists, but be prepared for long waiting lists and be aware you may be passed on to other colleagues without warning!

  • So the idea that it might help to decrease waiting times, was not the case with you. I do know how they can chop and change consultants at will. Seems the NHS is set up to cater for these specialists rather than the public.

    18 months is a hell of a long time. If you weren't ill before, you will be by then.

  • Almost all my hospital appointments have to be done through Choose & Book, but I call it "No choice, just book". usually it gives you a choice of a few appointment times, but no choice of who to see or where; other times you get one choice of appointment and that's it.

  • So not as helpful as they might want you to believe?

  • I suspect it is different in each area.

  • I suspect your right.

  • Is this available in Scotland?

  • Thanks cc120, very informative.

  • You're welcome sandrad.

  • It works fine. This is the only way now, in my area, to book a referred service.

  • Interesting.

  • I have to say my GP at the time was very good and when I demanded to see a particular endo she set up the choose and book for me. I had already found an endo who prescribed and there are NHS endos that do but his bosses stopped him prescribing NDT because it was expensive. Luckily his previous patients could stay on it but he was not allowed to prescrinbe to new patients.

  • Thank you Glynisrose.

  • Choose & Book was a bit of a disaster for me. I've had serious gut problems for years and I was being referred to gastroenterology. I was sent a letter with a password to use on the internet and a list of four hospitals I could pick from, in order of the distance they were from where I lived.

    Hospital 1 - my local hospital and my first choice because it was convenient. I tried to book online and couldn't get an appointment, so I phoned up instead. I was told that they were fully booked up for several months ahead and weren't making any more for the foreseeable future.

    Hospital 2 - told me that they were not fully integrated with Choose & Book, and didn't make appointments just willy-nilly. They made appointments on a triage system so that I would be on a waiting list first for triage - a doctor decided how serious they thought my case was, based on the GP's letter - and then I would join the "proper" waiting list considered appropriate to my problems. So if I had chosen this hospital I could have waited a month, only to be told I had to wait another 3 months, if they decided my case wasn't important. I decided not to bother.

    Hospital 3 - this was nearly a 35 mile round trip - I made an appointment for 6 weeks time.

    Hospital 4 was in a place completely unfamiliar to me and was a 45 mile round trip. I decided to give it a miss.

    So, all looking good, although I was annoyed at how far I had to travel.

    Then my appointment was cancelled by hospital 3, and only then did I discover that it was a satellite hospital controlled by hospital 4. My new appointment was made for me at hospital 4 about 4 weeks after the previous, cancelled, appointment. I never did go to hospital 3.

    Every single time I had an appointment at hospital 4 they made it for about 6 weeks ahead, then cancelled it and made a new one for about 4 - 6 weeks after the cancelled one. It was clearly some kind of regular policy they had and I imagine it was to do with fudging the figures on waiting times.

  • As appalled as I am with everything you said, the final paragraph has me wide mouthed with horror. They kept on cancelling / postponing your appointment!!! I wonder if anyone else has had this experience. First I've come across.

  • Sorry, I may have given you the wrong impression. I was given an appointment, it would be cancelled, then another appointment would be made. The second appointment would be honoured. But I was getting quite a lot of treatment, so I needed to be seen multiple times. Each appointment I got would be cancelled first, then the replacement would be honoured and I would see someone, or have a procedure, or have a scan or whatever. Then a follow-up appointment would be made, then cancelled and re-scheduled. And the replacement appointment would be honoured. So I was constantly being led to believe that I would be seen within 6 weeks, but in reality I was seen about every 10 - 12 weeks. And for some things the wait was longer.

  • So they did cancel and re-schedule an appointment but on the re-scheduled appointment, they would deign to see you. But repeated this on many of your different appointments. I think you must be right regarding fudging the waiting list figures.

  • I saw my national health endo 4 times over a period of 3 years at what was supposed to be 6 month intervals. Practically every appointment was cancelled and rescheduled by the hospital for 3 months later. The last appointment just never came and after waiting over a year I went private.

    My husband who is diabetic and so visits the same endocrinologist has experienced exactly the same situation. Thankfully he is well and suffers no problems.

  • Yikes, what on earth is happening with them.

  • Thank you everyone for your input and helpful info. Seems that experiences of Choose and Book do vary considerably, all the way from excellent to horrendous!

  • Nearly all of my referrals (not just for endocrinology) have been via the Choose and Book system. In theory, I think it’s good because you can book a convenient appointment for yourself (time/day), and I have usually had the choice of 2 hospitals. I have never ever had the option of choosing a particular doctor.

    However, in practice, it has failed for me on many occasions because there haven’t been any available appointments within the time-frame specified, which has resulted in waiting even longer … 2/3 weeks for the original referral from the GP, another week or two for the Choose and Book system to spring into action and write to me and then, when no appointments have been available, they contact the department and request that they send me the appointment, which seems to take another 3 weeks minimum.

    I have just been through the system again – I am supposed to see an ophthalmologist by the end of April, but it has taken so long to work its way through the system (no appointments available through Choose and Book, so they contacted Ophthalmology to write to me direct) that my appointment is not until the end of May.

    If the referral had gone straight to the Ophthalmology Department from my GP in the first place, maybe I would have got my appointment when I should have.

    Being the cynic that I am now, I think that is probably exactly why it goes through the Choose and Book system, to add unnecessary delay :(

  • Very interesting perspective BeansMummy.

  • What really makes me so disappointed is I had never really used the national health service before (except to have my babies), just worked hard and paid a load of taxes. Then since my hour of need 4 years ago when I was diagnosed hypothyroid, the national health service has done nothing but let me down. What a joke!

  • What you have expressed is what a lot of people are feeling.

  • Hi All,

    My experience of Choose and Book is well... absolutely crap!!!

    I was given a Choose and Book referral in December 2012 to ENT when I should have been referred to Oncology for suspected Thyroid cancer. I told the telephonist that I'd been referred to the wrong department but she couldn't do anything and so my diagnosis was delayed for nearly 3 months when I should have been seen in 2 weeks. I'd already had a fight on with my GP to get tests done in the first place and it took a wait of 5 months and being sent for the wrong tests before I actually had a CT scan done, the one that was actually needed. I was made to feel as though I was wasting time but it was the ultrasound doctor that listened to me and referred me for the right scan that found the cancer.

    I have also seen my GP for another referral to ENT on the advice of the Oral Medicine Hospital that I attended in January. I've got the referral form containing the relevant passwords and ID but I cannot book an appointment with any of the chosen hospitals because they don't have any available at all. I've been trying to do Choose and Book for a month now to no avail and I keep getting reminder letters to book the appointment but cannot. It's a complete farse!!! I'm now waiting for the relevant hospital to contact me and they should have done it by the 9th April but I've not heard anything. No double it is delayed because of Easter.

    What was wrong with the old system whereby your GP wrote to the relevant hospital outpatient department on your behalf and then you got an appointment in the post?


  • Did the GP give you the option of them writing a letter? Many in your circumstances would have given up, being lured into a false sense of being well, feeling that otherwise professionals are sure to help them, and just left it for years till it was too late for them.

  • No option at all, it's Choose & Book or nothing. I think it's to do with patient choice rather than providing a service because instead of your GP referring you to the hospital that is best for you the Choose & Book form has a list of hospitals for you to choose from. I'm still waiting to be contacted by my chosen hospital.

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