New GP contract promises £10m e-referrals investment

  • 26 March 2018
New GP contract promises £10m e-referrals investment

A new agreed GP contract for 2018/19 has ensured an extra £10 million will be spent on the implementation of the NHS electronic referrals service (e-RS) to ensure it is available at every practice by October 2018.

Together with the £10 million investment, the contract agrees to clear joint guidance for e-RS between NHS England, the government and the British Medical Association’s General Practitioners Committee.

The contract also states that local paper switch-off dates will be determined, as well as resources for training.

It reads: “Where there are concerns from local GPs, the e-RS team will meet with them, to understand those concerns and jointly develop and deliver action plans to address any issues.

“In addition, the national e-RS implementation team is working on national products to raise awareness and understanding of e-RS.

“These include guidance which has been co-created with the GPC, as well as videos and training materials, that will outline the different ways practices can implement e-RS including what support can be given by other members of the practice team.”

The ultimate aim is to “have all CCGs and trusts using e-RS for all their practice to first, consultant-led, outpatient appointments from October 2018, and to have switched off paper referrals”.

Another action is a complete roll-out of electronic prescribing, with the contract promising a  “fall-back process if the system is not operational”.

Other actions include achieving the 10% minimum of patients registered for online services.

Dr Arvind Madan, NHS England director of primary care, said: “This new contract is positive news for patients and GPs, especially the focus on digital solutions. This will help GPs focus their time and resources on the areas that matter most to their patients.”

It was revealed this month that provider trusts will only receive payment for outpatient appointments for which the referral was made electronically, in a change intended to encourage use of e-RS.

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  • Totally agree with AndrewG. One area that could be looked into is rules-based patient scheduling as part of the referral, i.e. some intelligence that looks at the appointment reason/type, and, schedule any tests before hand so the results are waiting for the appointment.

  • So. More or less instant appointment made with local consultant.
    Then. Twelve week wait to see consultant.
    Then. Blood tests and scans take another eight weeks.
    Then. Consultant takes ‘up to six weeks’ to review results, make diagnosis and send you a letter informing you of your care plan.
    e-RS is a very small step forward but the shortage (and efficiency?) of NHS consultants needs seriously looking into.
    Then again. If you go private everything is done and dusted after a couple of weeks.

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