This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Read the latest issue online

GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

GPs having to make referrals on behalf of private providers

Exclusive GPs are having to make referrals on behalf on non-NHS providers because private groups don’t have access to the e-Referral Service, which is mandatory for all NHS providers. 

In a newsletter, the Lincolnshire LMC said that NHS providers can no longer accept non-eRS referrals, which means independent secondary care providers who want to refer patients to NHS providers will have to ask GPs to make those referrals for them.

The BMA has described the situation as ’absurd and unnecessary’

The GP Forward View in 2016 introduced changes to the NHS Standard Contract used by trusts to prohibit them from sending patients back to GPs for re-referrals to other specialists.

Lincolnshire LMC medical director Dr Kieran Sharrock said that the LMC was able to tell private providers to refer to hospitals themselves, without having to go through GPs. 

However, he said that due to the mandatory requirement for all referrals to go through the eRS - which private providers have no access to - GPs are being burdened with a greater workload.

He told Pulse: ’We were able to say to non-NHS providers, ”You really should be doing this work”, and they started to do it. It’s only since eRS has been mandatory for secondary care hospitals that it’s come back as a problem. The non-NHS providers are saying, ”Well, we can’t use eRS, so we can’t send the referral on to ourselves at the other hospital”.’

Dr Farah Jameel, BMA GP committee executive team lead for IT, said that she was not aware of delays and refusals being a widespread problem ’at this stage’, but added: However, where this is happening, it has implications for both patients, who may experience a delay in much-needed treatment, and for the workload for NHS GPs, who can be left to resolve the situation and make the referral themselves.

’This is a clearly absurd and unnecessary situation.’

The BMA said NHS providers should continue to accept referrals from independent providers as they did before eRS was introduced until they have access to the new system.

NHS England has been approached for comment.

Readers' comments (6)

  • And the fee for item of service for this absurdity is?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • In the words of the inimitable Malcolm Tucker NMFP

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I thought the requirement to use eRS only applied to GP referrals into secondary care

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • GPs in Medway are being forced to sign up to Medicine Optimization DES just because one private company given a Dermatology contract is not willing to monitor patients on Methotrexate. There was no coercion while Dermatology, Rheumatology and other Departments in the local hospital prescribed and had a duty to monitor these. Is that corruption or special status of some private contractors? God bless Medway - or has he forsaken this dump?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • unecessary confusion here: where 'independent' provider means private care, the provider does not need access to NHS referrals system, because private providers must refer privately; jumping the queue is not allowed in nHS?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Lets not forget GPs are independent providers like all the others out there. If GPs issue a UBRN number to their independent provider colleagues then they can make the eRS referral
    The problem here is an usual, no-one can see the immediate need in giving eRS access to independent NHS providers ...... long talked of but never achieved...sounds familiar ? As Medical Director of an independent provider I suggest GPs keep jumping up and down as much as I am on this

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say