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[MI] NHS e-Referral Service Open Data October 2019 to February 2023

Open data

Current Chapter

[MI] NHS e-Referral Service Open Data October 2019 to February 2023


The NHS e-Referral Service Open Data set is anonymous summary data of the number of referrals, bookings and appointment slot issues (ASIs) per week at Integrated Care Board (ICB) - sub group level by speciality and clinic type using the NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS)

The NHS e-Referral Service provides an easy way for patients to choose their first hospital or clinic appointment with a specialist. Bookings can be made by the patient online, using the telephone, or directly in the GP surgery at the time of referral. Under the NHS Standard Contract, all GPs in England use e-RS to make referrals to consultant-led outpatient services.

The data do not include those patients that have had a referral, booking or attempted booking outside of e-RS.

These data are being made available to allow for their use in public health – enabling more analysis, modelling and planning to be performed and to see changes over time during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS) open data dashboard

55,081,939 e-RS referrals

between 07 October 2019 and 26 February 2023

21,033,427 e-RS bookings

between 07 October 2019 and 26 February 2023

14,084,882 e-RS appointment slot issues

between 07 October 2019 and 26 February 2023

NHS e-Referral Service Inclusions

+ All patients that have had either a referral, booking or appointment slot issue, performed through e-RS

NHS e-Referral Service Exclusions

- This data does not include those patients that have had a referral, booking or attempted booking outside of e-RS

Definitions and Caveats

A referral in e-RS is defined as a request to another clinician to assist with management of a patient's health issue, this may result in creating an appointment request with a shortlist of suitable services, into one of which the patient may book an appointment. Each referral has a unique booking reference number (UBRN).

Bookings data includes the number of successful initial bookings made as the result of a referral. A booking may be made at the same time as a referral, or at a later date. It includes bookings of referrals previously on the Appointment Slot Issues (ASI) worklist, provided the provider updates the e-referral system with the booking information.

Appointment Slot Issue (ASI)  - during the appointment booking process e-RS will allow the referral to enter the ASI process if there are no slots available for booking at the time of the appointment search. This action is called ‘Defer to Provider’. Each time the referral is deferred the referral will appear on the service providers ‘Appointment Slot Issues’ worklist.  It is this action we are reporting.

ICB - sub group level has been defined as the parent of the referring organisation.  As a result, some non-ICB - sub group organisations are included in the open dataset.

Only activity attributed to ICB - sub groups and other non-ICB - sub group organisations in England is included.  As the ICB - sub group is based on the postcode of the referring organisation, it is possible that patients are interacting with services in England but resident in other countries outside of England i.e. Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands.

Due to the impact of Covid-19, several weeks data show a higher number of appointment slot issues than the number of referrals raised. This may be due to the cancellation of routine appointments, and the subsequent rebooking attempts made by patients.

The percentage of GPs referring patients to first outpatient services using e-RS, in England is high, typically 95% or more.


The dataset will be updated monthly and feedback is welcome here:  Please reference “NHS e-RS Open Dataset feedback” in the title of the email. 


Last edited: 8 March 2023 9:09 am

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