From Monday 15th June 2015 the new NHS e-Referrals service was released, replacing the current Choose and Book service.
Announced back in June 2013, the e-Referral system was delayed from its original release date of November 2014 for further testing. A statement from the Health & Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) said “The decision [to delay] has been taken to ensure there is confidence that there will be no disruption to patient care for the 40,000 patients who use the service every day and to ensure over 60 million referrals are safely and securely transferred into the NHS e-Referral Service”.
E-Referrals was built on the success of Choose and Book and aims to eliminate those areas that are still using a mixture of electronic and paper referrals. The hope is that this new service will improve upon the former, being easier and faster to use, benefitting the healthcare professionals that use the service and ultimately the patient’s experience.
It has been hailed as bringing the NHS into the world of modern technologies.
“The new NHS e-Referral Service will harness some of the new technologies used by the most successful IT companies in the world and, using the latest Agile development techniques, will deliver a service designed and assured by the users, that patients want and the NHS needs to deliver modern and efficient healthcare” (HSCIC).
With a commitment to make all referrals electronic by 2018, all current and past referrals have been migrated from the Choose and Book service and it has been designed to be functionally equivalent avoiding the need for retraining of users.
How does it work?
As with Choose and Book, the e-Referrals service gives patients the choice of which hospital or clinic to attend in their Primary Care Trust and the choice of time and date for their 1st scheduled outpatient appointment.
When your local GP give you diagnoses in which you need to book an appointment to see a specialist, the e-Referrals database shows your Doctor the hospitals and clinics available in your local area to provide your treatment.
If you have your diary or calendar with you and have a preference for which hospital or clinic you would like to be seen at, you may be able to book your first outpatient appointment before you leave your GP’s surgery. If your Doctor can find a time and date you prefer, they will be able to confirm the place, date and time of your appointment straight away by accessing the e-Referral website.
The new e-Referral service can be found here – https://www.ebs.ncrs.nhs.uk/
What are the benefits?
HSCIC has listed the benefits of e-Referrals for:
- Improved confidence and certainty
- Improved choice and access
- Reduced waiting time for first appointment and a reduction in the overall treatment time
- Improved patient safety
- Improved confidence in the referral process
- Improved referral management
- Improved integration with referrer clinical systems
- Effective and consistent referral and patient management
- Reduced administrative overheads
- Reduced ‘Did Not Attends’
- Improved integration with hospital clinical systems
- Improved referral management
- More effective and efficient commissioning and contract management