The government wants to mandate NHS England to support the health service to go digital by 2018.

It also plans on extending the Friends and Family Test to GP practices.

As part the celebration of the NHS’ 65th anniversary, the government has launched a consultation on a ‘refresh’ of its mandate to NHS England, which was announced in November last year.

The consultation reflects developments such as the publication of the Francis Enquiry and health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s challenge to go paperless by 2018.

“The government wants to move to paperless referrals in the NHS so that patients and carers can easily book appointments in primary and secondary care and for people to benefit from electronic prescribing in primary and secondary care,” says the consultation.

“The government therefore proposes to update the existing technology objective to challenge NHS England to support the NHS to go digital by 2018.”

The consultation also proposes to extend the Friends and Family test to GP practices as part of the government’s plan to increase transparency in the NHS.

“The Friends and Family Test will be introduced for general practice as part of the wider roll-out for all services by end of December 2014,” it says.

It adds that people should be able to see their preferred GP or nurse and proposes new provider models that offer choice about the type of service people need.

“This includes having the option to speak with them over e-mail, telephone, video or face-to-face consultations,” says the refresh document.

The original mandate highlighted the need to increase the use of technology to improve care, particularly for people with long-term conditions.

All the existing objectives set out in the 2013-2015 mandate will remain, but the government proposes some updates and new inclusions.

The consultation focuses on improving integrated care and the future of services for elderly people and highlights last month’s spending review which announced the creation of a £3.8 billion joint budget for health and social care.

“The government therefore expects NHS England to support development of integration plans in each local area in partnership with local authorities and wellbeing boards, with an ambition that each area moves to a wholly integrated approach to health and care by 2018,” it says.

“People often require a range of services from the NHS and social care to help them live well and independently. People should not have to repeat their information.

“It should be shared between services and people providing the care in a coordinated and timely way. We will explore how all clinicians and carers have access to the same information about patients regardless of setting.”

Last week, the government announced it has created a new organisation, Genomics England, which will manage a project to sequence 100,000 genomes and link these to electronic health records.

The government also proposes to update the previous mandate by asking NHS England to help drive forward the project by, “supporting its implementation and delivery and by preparing the NHS for the adoption of genomic technologies”.

As part of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 the mandate has to be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that it remains up to date.

The consultation on the updated mandate closes on 27 September.