Improvements to the advice function on NHS e-Referral service makes referring easier

17 Feb 2021 11:07 AM

Following feedback from GPs and consultants, NHS Digital has improved the NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS), to make referring smoother and easier for all.

Providing primary care clinicians with an effective tool to talk to and seek advice from secondary care clinicians before they make a referral increases the number of successful consultations and referrals, ensuring patients see the right clinician at the right time and only when needed. 

Following extensive consultation with both stakeholders and users, provider clinicians can now turn an advice conversation directly into a referral, making it easier and quicker for busy clinicians to use the e-RS service.1

Further changes towards the end of March 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 do not have to switch between systems to seek advice from each other.2

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 Service (e-RS) 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.

More information

e-RS Advice and Guidance toolkit

Notes to Editors

  1. Consultants and other provider clinicians will only be able to convert the advice and guidance conversation into a referral with the agreement of the referrer, where both agree it is in the best interests of the patient to do so.
  2. The conversation conversion functionality has been available since the end of January 2021, with greater interoperability with provider IT systems available in the spring.

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