Secondary Care

NHS hits e-referral and NHS Spine milestones

NHS Digital has announced the NHS e-Referral Service has hit 100 million bookings and the NHS Spine has reached one billion transactions.

Currently the e-referral service is booking around 400,000 referrals every week. The announcement from NHS Digital comes as new guidance has been launched for GPs to ensure they are getting the most out of the NHS e-Referral Service.

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.

Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust has discovered that patients on average receive their appointments eight days faster by using e-RS.

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.”

The NHS Spine reached the milestone of one billion transactions in October which is more than four times the average load on the UK’s entire debit and credit card transaction system.

The growing number of transactions were as a result of increased demand in digital services across the sector. The secure platform handles at peak 3,500 messages a second.

Rob Shaw, Deputy CEO and Managing Director of Platforms, Infrastructure and Live Services said, “It’s such an exciting time for technology and as uptake of digital services and applications continues to build, vital infrastructure like the Spine must continuously evolve to meet the demand of our NHS staff 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Bringing the system in-house and building it entirely on open source software has allowed us to make quick and easy changes to keep up. We’re now two years running delivering regular releases and providing highly available service.”