The NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS) has been integrated into the NHS App, to allow patients to book and manage appointments easily and securely online.
This additional functionality is aimed at reducing non-attendance and saving time for GPs, who can now email appointment booking details directly to patients with an NHS login.
Patients can access their information through the NHS Manage Your Referral website directly from the NHS App, so there is no need to print and post booking instructions.
This functionality has been live since October 2020 and, according to NHS Digital, it has already shown that when patients book their own appointments, the ‘did not attend’ rate can reduce by up to half. This means patients are treated quickly and practices don’t need to refer patients again.
Martin O’Keeffe, Senior Clinical Lead at NHS Digital said: “We’ve put the power back into patients’ hands, giving them another digital route to book and manage their own hospital appointments.
“The NHS App will provide an easy, quick and secure way to do this on the move, meaning many patients won’t have to wait for their referral details in the post before they book their first appointment.
“The NHS App currently has over 2 million verified users. With 40% of e-RS appointments currently being booked by practice staff, this provides a powerful push for primary care to introduce their patients to the benefits of the NHS App, and save themselves and the wider NHS both time and money.
“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.”