NHS e-Referral reaches online booking milestone

The NHS e-Referral Service has hit 100 million bookings since it was launched in 2005 as the NHS Choose and Book Service.

NHS Digital says that the service, which allows patients or clinicians to book appointments in hospital or other care settings online, is now booking around 400,000 referrals every week. The success of the digital service has been shown to reduce the number of people who fail to attend their appointment.

With new guidance having recently been launched for GPs to ensure they are getting the most out of the NHS e-Referral Service, the system has also proven to reduce the use of paper and save time and money that can be better used for patient care.

Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said: “This is a great example of how technology can save staff time, get patients seen faster and make every pound go further. It is by embracing these sorts of innovations that we will make the NHS the most technologically advanced healthcare system in the world.”

Dr Stephen Miller, National Medical Director of the NHS e-RS at NHS Digital, said: “Hitting 100 million bookings is a major landmark for the NHS e-Referral Service. Coming off the back of the recent switch over to a fully electronic referral process for GP to consultant-led outpatient appointments, this really demonstrates that improved patient outcomes are fully at the heart of new digital technology. We now need to focus on expanding e-RS use so that it becomes the established way of making all referrals, ensuring that all patients all experience the same high-quality of referrals into NHS care.”

In October all 150 acute trusts in England completed the switch to the NHS e-Referral Service, meaning that all first outpatient appointments must now be booked through the system.

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