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£95m package to boost NHS e-referral plans:

This article was originally published in Clinica

Executive Summary

As Clinica went to press today, the UK's Department of Health announced a £95m ($177m) "reward scheme" to boost electronic booking of hospital referrals - a key element of its "patient choice" plans. The move is in response to a report published today by the National Audit Office. While acknowledging the progress made in setting up the necessary infrastructures - some 2,500 GPs have been set up with the system, according to the DoH - the NAO has slammed the slow implementation of the e-booking system as "abysmal", warning of a "very real danger" that the patient choice initiative will be undermined. Against a target of 205,000 bookings in 2004 (out of an overall total of some nine million per year), only 63 were made, at a cost of £52,000 each.

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