"A choose and book appointment has led to demands for money and threat of legal action"

About: Brent Teaching PCT Hospital Of St John & St Elizabeth

(as the patient),

When my GP tried to refer me to an ENT specialist in May, he used the choose&book system and told me to choose one, which I did.

St.John and Elizabeth hospital in London NW8 had by far the shortest waiting time.

The online system did not work, neither did a phonecall to choose and book who suggested I go back to my GP. This I did and within a week the GP receptionist called me with details fo how to make the appointment. I was given a number and told to make the appointment through outpatients. This I did, although I was asked by outpatients to phone the consultant's secretary myself as she was the one who held his diary. I made the appointment and was seen within a week. The consultant greeted and examined me after a brief history but had no referral letter or notes of any sort on my case. At the end of the consultation he asked for payment.

I explained I had come to him through the choose and book system but he said no agreement existed with him, this was a private hospital and he would be seeking payment. I explained how I was an innocent NHS patient and how it was probably the outpatient department that had acted incorrectly and that at a hosptial where both NHS and private services exist, this was not that surprising. The whole thing was embarrassing, awkward and annoying. He eventually agreed in his words "to take it on the chin" and not charge me

But that is not what has happened.

I've been sent 3 letters by the hospital demanding payment and despite phonecalls to their credit department, my arguments are falling on deaf ears. My GP surgery has supplied me with some evidence of what happened but are not interested getting involved or fighting my case.

If anyone can tell me how I'm supposed to proceed I'd be grateful for any tips. I'm furious at the whole thing - especially as I work for the NHS and am currently stressed out enough without having to devote time to this!

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Response from

Thank you for taking the time to talk about your experiences. I am sorry to hear that you have had such a difficult time using the Choose and Book system. It sounds like you have had a nightmare! We can't help you with this directly, but I would like to recommend that you contact your local NHS Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) for more help. They can be contacted on 020 8795 6771 or by email . They should be able to help you, or at least advise you on your best options. Thanks again for sharing your story with Patient Opinion.
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