Choose and Book, part III

Now where was I? Ah yes, I was going to tell you all about what happened when I rang the Choose and Book helpline, to see if they could give me an appointment. I’m sure you can guess the answer. I spoke to a delightful young lady, who tried to book me an appointment. She too came up against the same problem: no appointments available. Trying not to vent my frustration on her, I asked if it would be possible for someone to just send me an appointment, as I wasn’t really that fussed about Choosing and Booking it myself. OK, she said, in that case, what you need to do is this: ignore the next letter we send you, and the one we send you after that. Once you’ve ignored those two letters someone will get in touch and send you an appointment. I found this rather peculiar and queried it; she was adamant – ignore the letters, then you’ll get an appointment. She did point out that this could take a while – the first letter would be sent out after a month, the next one even later. I wasn’t too worried about having to wait as long as I got an appointment, so I decided to forget about it until I’d received the letters.
At least some of what she had told me was true – I did eventually receive both letters, which urged me to go online and Choose and Book my appointment. I ignored them, happiily thinking that before long I would get a letter telling me where and when I needed to present myself. Of course this never happened, and eventually I decided to do what I probably should have done right from the beginning: I rang my GP practice. After all, when they sent me through the details of how to Choose and Book they also gave a number and said ‘If you have any problems Choosing and Booking your appointment, please give us a call’, so I did. I explained to the secretary who took the call what had happened, and she said ‘OK then, I’ll fax it through for you’. Fax. You read that right. After all the time and money that had been put into building a modern online booking system, what was actually going to make the difference was a form of communication that ought to have disappeared around the turn of the century. Sure enough, a few days later I got a letter from UCH with an appointment. You might think that this would be the end of the story, but there was more madness to come.

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