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Practices to be rewarded for switching to e-referrals in £55m scheme

GP practices could be rewarded for moving towards a fully electronic referrals system under NHS England plans.

NHS England today announced it was investing £55m to reward CCGs for phasing out referrals made through second class post.

The money would be used to ‘support GPs and hospitals to adopt the practice of electronic referrals’, it said.

The funding is being made available through the ‘Quality Premium’, which rewards CCGs for improvements in the quality of services.

In 2018, NHS England will also consult on whether the requirement to complete and process referrals electronically becomes a contractual condition for commissioners and hospitals.

NHS England said that the new plans ‘call time on the practice of referring patients to hospital by second class post’.

Currently, half of patients referred for secondary care appointments are referred electronically, but managers plan to increase this to 100% by 2018.

At the moment around 50% of patients are referred for hospital appointments electronically. It is intended this will increase rapidly to 60% by September 2016, 80% by 2017 and 100% by 2018.

NHS England director of digital technology Beverley Bryant said: ‘For a long time our first class healthcare system has been let down by outmoded systems, where patients are referred to hospital by second class post.

‘We have a duty of care that extends beyond providing effective treatments. We must also provide an effective patient experience that ensures patients feel reassured at a time when they are most vulnerable.’

Readers' comments (15)

  • Neil Bhatia

    If the system was so good, so efficient, actually worked, and slots were available to be booked, then you wouldn't need to bribe GPs to use it.

    On the whole, we all *pay* to use good quality software, not *get paid* to use it.

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  • And what if we already use it? Will we miss out of the cash? Or when the archaic hospital won't accept anything but carrier pigeons?

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  • So the IT system which has failed to roll out on time will decide who is performing well in the contracted e-referrals Vs hospitals which are still struggling to stay above CQC water and continue to use paper folders ...erm that would be around 70% of the hospitals bailed out by the NHS 2 Billion budget!

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  • Another step on the road to privatisation by the back door.....

    Remind me never to by the Torygraph again as I am just now so fed up with their blatent anti doctor stance I have had it with them.

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  • Neil Bhatia

    How many hospitals print off the "e-referral" and put the referral letter in the consultant's tray.... ?

    Many are printed off and sent to the patient registration department first.

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  • Deja vu.They paid you to do C&B in the first year and then you were left in lurch struggling at times to make it in the 10 min appointments. Next year funding was dropped. No premium for guessing how long this lolly will last.

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  • Dear All
    A fax is electronic and saves the consultant's secretary the chore of printing of the non intergrateable C&B referral letter.
    Simples.

    As they say above, if you have to entice people to use a software system its the software thats the problem. Efficient, usefull, relibale, work saving IT is allways taken up without enticement.

    Regards
    Paul C

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  • It's such a poor quality solution. E-referrals can't be uploaded to the EPR, so have to be printed at the hospital. The print out is 17 pages of garbage before you get to the clinical information. Attachments like blood tests are never readable.

    The system is so clunky that the referral letter is often never read before the clinic. The patient turns up to the pre-booked clinic and then tells the consultant why they came. Any possibility of expediting urgent referrals or pre booking tests to speed up assessment is now completely lost.

    Give me a piece of paper any day

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  • Faxed referrals or same day internal mail deliveries are far easier and quicker and the urgent (but not 2WW) referrals can be picked out and passed to consultant. Can't we just stick with what works instead of trying to use something inferior and unnecessary in the name of "modernisation" just to allow some politicians to claim achievement?

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  • It's not a question of 'modernisation' - it's a con to feed IT partners who will later fund the election campaign. They have to be given funds by the govt so they can make contributions to the party coffers when the time comes. NHS and patient care has nothing to do with the decisions Tories are making.

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