The new NHS e-Referral Service will go-live on 15 June as part of plans to replace all paper-based referrals.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre has confirmed the new date after a planned November 2014 go-live for the electronic booking service was pushed back to spring 2015.

At the time, the HSICIC said the delay was down to the need for “significant test, assurance and defect resolution activity” to be completed.

The new service is based on open-source technology, with a focus on open standards, and is considered a key milestone towards achieving a paperless NHS by 2018.

The HSCIC website says the "new electronic referral service will improve the quality of the referral experience for patients and better support current and future business processes for clinicians and administrative staff."

It adds that its introduction means there will "no longer be a mixed economy of paper and electronic referrals.”

The electronic system replaces Choose and Book, developed a decade ago as part of plans to introduce “airline-style booking” to the NHS, as part of the 'choice' and 'personalisation' agendas of the early New Labour governments.

It was intended as one of a number of new, digital services to make the NHS more convenient, but roll-out was significantly delayed and usage stalled at around 50%.

The HSCIC says the e-Referrals Service will build on the successes of Choose and Book, while acknowledging its failures, and will include enhanced functionality and usability.

"We have spoken to more than 2,500 stakeholders and they have told us about some of the functionality they would like to see from a future NHS e-referral service," it says.

Former NHS England chief executive, Sir David Nicholson, said last year that the main difference between the old and the new service, which is being developed by BJSS, is that “anyone can refer to anyone".

It will allow patients to book their own follow up appointments electronically and be given alerts and reminders of when to book. They can also refer themselves into services.

He also said use of e-referrals could become mandatory and NHS England was considering an incentive and penalty system to ensure use of the online service.