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.