The number of referrals being made on the new NHS e-Referral Service has risen to 40,000 a day, the same as were made using the Choose and Book system.
In the days after replacing Choose and Book on Monday 15 June, users of the e-Referral Service reported that it was running slowly, and there were several periods during which it was unavailable.
This meant the number of referrals being processed each day was significantly reduced. But following weeks of stabilisation work, the number of referrals being made using the national electronic system are up to the levels recorded before its introduction, at around 40,000 a day.
While the service has been stabilised for GPs, patients and commissioners, NHS England’s director of strategic systems and technology, Beverley Bryant, said there are ongoing issues for provider organisations and referral management centres.
“Providers have had to work harder to make it work than they did before which is not good, so user experience is not as good as with Choose and Book and we always said it would be better.”
She said the e-Referrals team is entirely focused on fixing the system, rather than work on developing it and improving uptake, which will happen once it is fully stabilised.
A new release of the service, 4.1, went out last Friday and early feedback is that it has “helped a lot,” Bryant said. Some more big releases are expected over the coming weeks.
Twelve business change teams around the country have been supplemented with extra staff and are working directly with trusts to help minimise the impact of the problems. Recommendations often include a change of browser to use Google Chrome or Firefox.
“We expected some issues after go-live, but there have been more issues than we expected,” Bryant said. “Our message to users is to keep raising issues and we are sorry it’s been a difficult time for some providers.”
BJSS was selected to develop the new e-Referral Service in 2013, using open source technology.