Northamptonshire is moving to digital-only referrals for consultant-led appointments using the NHS e-Referral Service (eRS). We need to work together to achieve this by 30 March 2018. From then, all new referrals from GPs to consultant-led outpatient services at Northampton and Kettering General Hospitals need to be made via eRS.
Any referrals sent by post after 30 March 2018 will be returned to the referring GP without appointment and the GP requested to refer via eRS
Why are we doing this?
This is happening as part of the national Paper Switch Off project and is a requirement of the NHS England 17/18 contract. This means the NHS will only pay for first appointments made digitally.
Benefits of using the new system include an estimated reduction in the rate of patients missing appointments from 10 per cent to 5 per cent, saving £50 million across the whole NHS.
Other benefits include:
- fewer inappropriate referrals
- shorter referral to treatment times
- cost and time savings for GPs practices and hospitals
- choice of hospital or specialist
- choice of appointment date and time
Support and training
The majority of GP practices in Northamptonshire are already using the eRS system.
If your practice doesn’t already use the system for the majority of your referrals, there are resources available to help:
- A range of educational tools and support information can be found on the training section of the NHS e-Referral Service website (http://content.digital.nhs.uk/referrals) which includes quick reference guides, e-learning modules and case studies
- There is a dedicated section on the website which includes live service information and alerts
- For e-Referral Service (eRS) questions relating to functionality and training not addressed by the eRS website, please contact NEL CSU via email or phone: firstname.lastname@example.org or 01604 978089.
There are some exemptions for digital referrals where it is not appropriate to switch to eRS. These are:
- Termination of pregnancy
- Emergency and HOT clinics where patients need to be seen within 24-48 hours
- Prison requests
- Mental health trust requests
- Patients with no NHS number
- Patients with an NHS number who do not wish their details added to the spine
- System-to-system requests involving community paediatrics and children’s physiotherapy
- Referrals from community midwives to obstetrics service
- Referrals from dentists to Maxillo—facial service
- Referrals from optometrists to ophthalmology