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GPs revert to paper as new e-referrals system is taken offline completely

GPs are resorting to fax and post to refer patients today after the new e-referrals system malfunctioned last night and was taken offline completely.

The system will remain offline until ‘technical difficulties’ with the server are resolved, Pulse has been told.

The system was launched on Monday of this week but was suffering a range of issues affecting practices’ ability to log on, with GPs telling Pulse they were forced to delay referrals as a result.

This followed months of delay to tackle bugs in the system that had been identified before the original launch date which was planned for October 2014.

A Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) spokesperson said: ‘We are experiencing some technical difficulties. We are working hard to resolve these issues as quickly as possible and to keep disruption to a minimum. We will continue to update users regularly and are sorry for the inconvenience this has caused.’

Dr Neil Bhatia, a GP in Hampshire, told Pulse: ‘At the moment we can’t do anything. So we’re basically doing referrals as we’ve always done, we type a letter and we have an internal post system that sends it to our local hospital.’

The HSCIC has brought in the new system to replace the unpopular Choose and Book, which was plagued by unexpected crashes and a lack of appointments added by consultants and was used by fewer than 50% of GPs.

Dr Bhatia said: ‘What will happen is people will stop using it, you lose momentum. When you use it and it doesn’t work, eventually you realise you’re far better off not using the system in the first place.’

The e-referral system may not remain optional though, with NHS England having suggested that practices failing to adopt it may face penalities. Meanwhile, some CCGs have said they intend to only accept electronic referrals going forward.

Deputy chair of the GPC IT subcommittee, Dr Grant Ingrams, said thje problems were ‘a pain in the butt’ and creating extra work for GPs and receptionists.

He added: ‘You do feel sometimes it would be better to tie a letter to the back of a tortoise and point it in the right direction.’

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Readers' comments (7)

  • accountability = zero

    blame = always GPs

    i went to a technology talk re: POC and u know what they were blaming GPs for the fact their expensive non-evidenced products were not being used. 'if only lazy Gps did this etc etc'. I got up and walked out. Having worked in industry as well I know you have to 'test' products before roll out but in the NHS it's a case of politically we want it so it will happen.

    i now understand now why Balotelli wears 'why always me?' - it should be standard uniform for all Gps.

    we need accountability people otherwise these issues are going to continue to happen.

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  • Vinci Ho

    The difference is Barlotelli was lazy as far as getting results for LFC was concerned . We are not , in my belief.....,..

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  • Oh dear.

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  • A Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) spokesperson said: ‘ We will continue to update users regularly ’

    Liars. The first I knew of the problem was reading this article. I have still not had any contact from HSCIC, such as a mass email, about it. And there is nothing about it on the HSCIC website.

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  • Vinci Ho

    The response I had from EMIS today was
    ' Until further notice'
    How politically correct!

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  • John Glasspool

    Back to the stone age for you chaps then!

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  • HSCIC - there is more to this place than meets the eye. If only we all knew.

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