NHS Digital tweaks e-referral system to hospitals

Warrington, United Kingdom - March 6, 2016: Warrington, UK - march 6, 2016: View of the NHS (National Health Service)  logo at the Springfields Medical Centre in the centre of Warrington, Cheshire.

NHS Digital has tweaked its electronic referral system, to smoothen the process of making a hospital appointment.

The e-Referral Service (e-RS) is used by primary care doctors to talk to and seek advice from secondary colleagues ahead of making a formal referral.

e-RS is an important part of the NHS' response to the COVID-19 crisis as the system struggles to manage patient workload at a time when there is intense pressure on the system.

Following consultations with both GPs and hospital doctors, changes have been introduced to the service to increase the number of successful consultations and referrals.

With the new arrangements doctors can now turn an advice conversation directly into a referral, streamlining the process for busy doctors using the e-RS system.

Towards the end of next month, further changes will also allow the advice and guidance function to be integrated into provider systems.

This will mean 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.

e-RS is designed to provide 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 at the GP surgery at the time of referral.

Martin O’Keeffe, Senior Clinical Lead from NHS Digital told the National Health Executive website: “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.”