Clinician discussing a patient's record with a colleague on a laptop

NHS Digital introduce referral system improvements

Listening to feedback from GPs and consultants, NHS Digital have rolled out a series of new improvements to the NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS) to make referring patients smoother and easier for all involved.

By providing an effective tool to primary care clinicians, which allows them to talk to and seek advice from their secondary care colleagues ahead of making a referral, increases the number of successful consultations and referrals.

It will ensure patients see the right clinician at the right time and only when needed.

Before the improvements were introduced, NHS Digital carried out extensive consultation work with both stakeholders and users.

Now, provider clinicians can turn an advice conversation directly into a referral, streamlining the process for busy clinicians using the e-RS system.

Towards the end of March, further changes will also allow the advice and guidance function to be integrated into provider systems so that conversations can be directly embedded into the patient’s medical record and clinicians are not required to switch between systems to seek advice from one another.

Martin O’Keeffe, Senior Clinical Lead from NHS Digital said: “By making it easier for primary and secondary care clinicians to talk to each other, we know that GPs can get the advice they need at their fingertips while hospital consultants can have greater confidence that a referral is appropriate before a patient is referred to them.

“This will make the whole process smoother and simpler for everyone involved and ultimately will improve patient care.

“This is part of a series of improvements that are being made to the NHS e-Referral service designed to help clinicians and patients.

“We hope that giving clinicians the tools they need for true, shared decision-making will support them to make the best, evidence-based choices for their patients.”

The NHS e-Referral System (e-RS) also provides an easy way for patients to choose their first hospital or clinic appointment with a specialist. Bookings can be made online, using the telephone or directly in the GP surgery at the time of referral.

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