How many Choice appointments do you need?

If you are starting from scratch you will have a range of job plans with just Core and Specific Partnership time and no Choice. You will need to work out the Choice needed across the team and incorporate this into some job plans. You might take this time from existing Core Partnership, Specific Partnership or Other Task time.

Here’s how…

Establish the average accepted number of referrals the team receives a week. For a tier 3 service some of these will be accepted for tier 3 (and so will need a tier 3 Choice appointment) and others may be put into other parts of your service e.g. emergency, tier 2, LAC. Of course, all families coming to your service, whether as an emergency, tier 2 or other can be offered a Choice appointment. Just follow the same principles.

There will be a small DNA rate – usually less than 5% - but we recommend that you plan for 100% attendance to ensure flexible capacity. In other words, you will need the same number of Choice appointments as accepted referrals.

When starting CAPA you will only be able to estimate the number of appointments you need based on your average weekly referral numbers. But as you get going you may find it helpful to calculate the demand weekly and ensure you have enough appointments over the next six weeks (see flexing capacity in CAPA component 3: Handle demand). This is especially true if you have a lot of variation in your weekly referral rate.

Example: Anywhere CAMHS averages 11 referrals accepted a week. They therefore need to plan for 11 Choice appointments a week. They also know that the range is 5 to 20, much higher in September and July and much less in the summer holidays, resulting in longer waits for Choice at these busy periods. So, once they have got CAPA going and feel confident, they decide to flex their Choice capacity by monitoring weekly referrals and ensuring they have that same number of Choice appointments available over the next 6 weeks. This guarantees that everyone needing a Choice appointment waits no longer than 6 weeks, no matter when in the year they are referred.