GPs and NHS trusts are unable to access the new NHS e-Referral service just hours after it was launched, due to “technical difficulties”.

A ‘summary of known problems/issues’ report published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre this morning details 33 issues that referrers, providers and commissioners are facing including problems accessing work lists and viewing referral histories.

An HSCIC spokesperson said the transition to the new NHS e-Referral Service was made at 1.30am this morning.

“As the numbers of users to the system increased throughout the morning, we experienced some technical difficulties which have prevented users from accessing the service,” the spokesperson said.

“We are working hard to resolve these issues as quickly as possible and to keep disruption to a minimum. We will continue to update users regularly and are sorry for the inconvenience this has caused.”

The HSCIC report details many of the problems being experienced by users. These include keyboard short cuts not working and appointments being hidden off the bottom of the screen.

Suggested workarounds are to “use the mouse” and “use the scroll bar”.

There are issues with table columns and headings not being correctly aligned and reports and extracts that were available in Choose and Book, are not yet available.

Referring clinicians are also having trouble attaching referral letters, checking patient contact details and searching for a named clinician, among other things.

Providers are having problems accessing work lists and viewing the date and time of an appointment in the ‘referrals for review’ worklist.

The new e-Referral Service has been developed over the past two years by the HSCIC and NHS England to replace Choose and Book, which was used to refer around 40,000 patients a day.

It was originally meant to go live in November 2014 but was delayed until spring 2015 due to the need for “significant test, assurance and defect resolution activity” to be completed.

Dr Neil Paul from Sandbach GPs said an email from his practice's secretaries this morning said the new e-Referral service was not working and they were emailing the local hospital directly until it is available.

Meanwhile Dr Neil Bhatia from The Oaklands Practice said e-Referrals appeared to be working when he tried the service this afternoon.