NHS Digital has made improvements to the advice function on its NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS), following feedback from clinicians.
These changes focus on providing primary care clinicians with ‘an effective tool’ to talk to staff in secondary care settings before making a referral, thereby improving the referral system for patients too.
The improvements include giving GPs and provider clinicians the ability to turn an ‘advice’ conversation directly into a referral for a patient.
According to NHS Digital, the changes aim to make the patient referral process quicker and ‘smoother and easier for all’. The alterations also arrive following ‘extensive consultation’ with stakeholders and users.
Other updates, expected to come into use at the end of March, will include the integration of advice and guidance functions into provider systems – enabling conversations to be embedded into patient records. This means advice will be easier to access, without the need to change systems.
Martin O’Keeffe, Senior Clinical Lead from NHS Digital, said: “By making it easier for primary and secondary care clinicians to talk to each other, we know that GPs can get the advice they need at their fingertips while hospital consultants can have greater confidence that a referral is appropriate before a patient is referred to them.
“This will make the whole process smoother and simpler for everyone involved and ultimately will improve patient care.
“This is part of a series of improvements that are being made to the NHS e-Referral service designed to help clinicians and patients.
“We hope that giving clinicians the tools they need for true, shared decision-making will support them to make the best, evidence-based choices for their patients.”