NHS IT, Records and Data

12.06.18

E-referral service rolled out by over half of NHS trusts

Over half of all acute trusts in the NHS in England have now switched over to the NHS e-referral service (e-RS).

Traditional paper referrals are being phased out across all trusts and, from October, providers will only be paid for activity that results from referrals made by the e-RS.

So far, 79 trusts have fully moved over to the new system, with 10 more expected to complete the move by the end of June.

County Durham & Darlington NHS Foundation Trust and Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust were the first  trusts to start processing all of their hospital referral appointments via the system. In April, Greater Manchester became the first geographical region to be running an entirely digital process.

The investment of £10m included in the new GP contract, which came into effect in April 2018, will help to support GP practices to implement e-RS in primary care.

Eve Roodhouse, director of implementation and the digital environment at NHS Digital, said that it is “really encouraging” to have hit this major milestone, following hard work from all involved.

She added: “e-RS puts the patient at the heart of the referral because it allows patients to book an appointment at a location, date and time that is convenient to them.

“Not only that, but the booking is immediate, speeding up the time it takes to be treated and reducing the number of appointments where the patient fails to attend by up to half.”

NHS Digital says that the system improves the efficiency of the referral management process by reducing the time taken to create and manage referrals and facilitating improved communication between primary and secondary care.

It also claims that the quality of referrals will be improved and the number of inappropriate referrals reduced.

Top image: Steve Debenport

 

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