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e-RS bulletin

November 2017
New video - how to use e-RS
A new video is available explaining how to set up and refer into a service from end to end.

The video shows the NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS) screens that users see and comes with commentary by e-RS professionals to explain the processes and reasoning behind the actions to be taken.

The video should be used along with other tools and support to train new users to provide all the information they need to undertake their role.
Referral Assessment Service
Release 1 of the Referral Assessment Service (RAS) gave providers the ability to set up a RAS. Release 2, due in early December 2017, will allow providers to publish their RAS services and referrers will be able to make triage requests into them. At this stage, providers will need to manage the clinical assessment and the onward referral as one process ('Refer/Book Now').

Release 3 is scheduled for February 2018, and will provide the additional ability for providers to manage the clinical assessment and the onward referral as separate processes ('Accept and Refer/Book Later').

Further information about release 2 will be available on the website shortly. This will include two learning modules for referrers and providers covering:
  • the changes specific to each user
  • how the screens will look and how to process referrals
  • managing worklists
  • further information.
Better Advice and Guidance
The improved Advice and Guidance (A&G) function was launched in June and allows multi-way conversations between a GP and a consultant. You can find out more about the improved A&G function in the new e-RS demonstration video (at time 10 minutes 30 seconds).

When Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG introduced A&G they found that, of 8,021 A&G requests sent to local hospitals, only 32% (2,592) were advised to refer immediately to an outpatient appointment.

Dr Ben Curtis, GP, Ramsey Health Centre Cambridgeshire said "e-RS provides an effective way to seek advice and guidance from specialist consultants. It improves communications between primary and secondary care and enhances the relationships between GPs and consultants. Using Advice and Guidance can improve the quality of referrals and ultimately the quality of care, by supporting a shared responsibility for patient care and the referrals being made."
Now easier for patients to book their own appointment
The new e-RS patient booking service ("Manage Your Referral") is proving very popular with patients. The new design works on tablets and phones, as well as computers, and is much easier to use. Practices should consider if a patient can book their own appointment and, if so, provide them with booking instructions available from within the system. This can save practice time, as well as putting patients in control of their healthcare by allowing them to book, check, change or cancel their appointment.

"When I needed to be referred to a consultant, I knew where I wanted to go. My GP just provided me with a password, so that I could go away and book the appointment online myself. It's also really useful to see information about the waiting times at different hospitals, because you can choose to travel a bit further in order to get a quicker appointment." Alex Dwiar, a patient at Paxton Green Group Practice, South London.
Deadline for Paper Switch-Off!
The Standard Contract for 2018/19 requires the full use of e-RS for all consultant-led first outpatient appointments. From 1 October 2018, providers will no longer be paid for activity resulting from referrals not made through e-RS. This is known as 'paper switch-off'. Out of 150 Trusts, 130 have now started work on increasing referrals using e-RS and preparing for paper switch-off. Three trusts have already reached a 'paper switch-off' status. NHS Digital is providing advice and support and has produced an implementation pack with the recommended approach, templates and sample documents.
Paper switch-off Digital Health Webinar - 1 December
A Digital Health webinar 'NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS) and Paper Switch-Off (PSO) follow-up session - getting ready for the new Standard Contract' is planned for Friday 1 December 2017 at 12.30pm (duration 1 hour).

Learn top tips from PSO project teams about what has worked and what hasn't, as they plan and deliver paperless referrals across their health communities. The webinar is for Clinical Information Officers, heads of IT and operational staff delivering PSO and will include an opportunity to ask questions.

Sign up now
New business intelligence report format
We have improved the way we present e-RS data through the introduction of a new web-based view. This doesn't replace the current ways of reporting, but provides a more visual and interactive display of the information at a detailed level if you prefer it. View e-Referrals bookings by specialty, referring organisation and provider and Appointment Slot Issues (ASIs) in NHS Trusts.

We are also working on further improvements to the way additional information, such as cancellation data is displayed. If you have any queries or suggestions for development, then please contact
Quick survey
Thank you for your feedback in July. We have used this to investigate your needs in more depth and, since the last survey, we have been conducting interviews and have observed referral processes in action.

We would now like to know your latest thoughts on e-RS and your views on the issues identified during our research, to help us shape the future of e-RS.

The survey takes about five minutes to complete.
Workgroup changes
The latest update to the service means a significant change to workgroups and how services are published.

New work group rule
For a service to be published, it must have a workgroup containing at least one active clinician attached to it.

Will this affect my service?
Existing published services will not be impacted unless the details of a service are updated. Changes can be saved, but the service can't be published until a workgroup containing at least one active clinician has been attached.

Further information can be found within the system Help section which is also available online (N3 connection required).