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Independents' Day

NHS England aims for 100% of practices to use e-referrals service

NHS England is aiming for 100% of GP practices to use its new e-referrals service, in order to make health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s pledge for a ‘paperless NHS’ by 2018 a reality.

It said it would not mandate the new e-referrals service, or incentivise GPs or CCGs to use it, but would instead develop a service with the profession, and encourage them to come on board.

NHS England announced plans for a new e-referral service - a revamped version of Choose and Book - which will be based on flight-booking websites, earlier this year.

An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘We want all GP practices to use Choose and Book/NHS e-referral service over time. There will be no mandating, but we will be developing a service that works for the NHS, in conjunction with the NHS, encouraging everyone to come on board.’

They added: ‘Achieving paperless referrals is an important step on the pathway to a paperless NHS by 2018. In terms of timing, there will be a gradual evolution from Choose and Book to the new NHS e-Referral Service.

‘It is clearly inefficient to have dual systems with a mixed economy of paper and electronic referrals and we must ensure that everyone is onboard in making paperless referrals a reality.’

Figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre from April and May this year show that just 52% of practices made all their referrals through Choose and Book, though figures from the first week of August show 91% practices make at least some of their referrals through the service.

Readers' comments (5)

  • Hmm...why not make it so good that practices WANT to use it. No? OK then, stick with the usual trick of removing funding and letting practices 'earn' it back without bothering to make it fit for purpose.

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  • Despite numerous promises over the years C&B still doesn't allow global named consultant referrals. Until this is addressed any new e-referral system is pointless.

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  • Why the obsession with going paperless? Have any of these policy makers actually worked as clinicians? It is far easier when unfamiliar with a patient to flick through notes and read letters than to dip in and out of computer records. Moreover, a misfiled paper letter is easy to spot - not so misfiled computer data. As usual, this is additional unfunded work being pushed onto GP practices in the name of progress.

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  • Most of the complaints about the current system seem to relate either to the local IT set up or the fact that hospitals refuse\are unable to make enough appointments available. A whizzy new booking system will not address either of these problems. Unless providers are mandated to take action to put sufficient capacity on the system and banned from re-arranging appointments just to manage their RTT performance, it seems unlikely that a new system will make any real difference.

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  • nhs england shows again it is patently not fit for purpose.

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