IT consultancy BJSS has been chosen by the NHS to develop its replacement for the Choose and Book appointments system.

BJSS will help the NHS bring in the NHS e-Referral Service. BJSS was awarded a framework agreement in February 2012 to supply the UK Government via its G-Cloud procurement programme.

BJSS recently rewrote and delivered the Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data warehouse platform, and is currently delivering a replacement to the NHS Spine messaging and secure database platform.

Handling an estimated 40 million-plus referrals across its lifetime, Choose and Book is an online referral and appointment booking system, that enables NHS professionals and patients to select their preferred healthcare provider, date and time of appointments and to confirm appointments.

Under the new BJSS contract the existing Choose and Book functionality will be replicated to support the transition to the new NHS e-Referral Service. But BJSS will remove the much maligned "vendor lock-in" within the current proprietary software that is part of the Choose and Book platform, which promises greater flexibility and significant reductions in operating costs, says the NHS.

Key changes also include expanding the system's capability to support additional professional users within the NHS and NHS partners, as well as a set of application programming interfaces (API) that will ensure the NHS e-Referral Service can more effectively integrate with other systems.

Mike Buck, BJSS public sector practice lead, said: "We will be working closely with the NHS team to deliver a cost-effective solution using open source and agile working techniques."