Skip Navigation

The future of the NHS e-Referral Service

Thanks to user feedback, the NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS) is continually improving to make it easier, quicker and more convenient to use. Find out about the improvements we're making.

Meeting users' requirements

Our roadmap of developments is based on your feedback. It shows what's needed, what we've done and what we're doing next. icon Find our how we're meeting user requirements. [54.01KB]

Future service roadmap

The icon e-Referral Service roadmap [119.47KB]  shows:

  • system enhancements
  • when they're being delivered
  • deadlines for the levers and incentives for using the service

Levers and incentives

The Quality Premium for 2016/17

The icon Quality Premium for 2016/17 [668.47KB]  is an incentive payment to encourage Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to increase the number of patients referred electronically through e-RS. 

It includes payments for:

  • achieving 80% of first outpatient appointments via e-RS
  • a 20% point uplift in year

e-RS and Advice and Guidance Commissioning for Quality and Innovation

This is a payment to incentivise providers to publish all services and appointment slots on e-RS.

The aims of a CQUIN (Commissioning for Quality and Innovation) are

  • to secure improvements in the quality of services
  • better outcomes for patients

The e-Referral Service CQUIN (section 7) aims to support referrers, such as GPs, in referring their patients electronically to the full range of outpatient services available and for their patients to always be able to book an appointment. 

The incentive will help ensure that hospitals and other providers are encouraged to make the necessary outpatient services and appointments available on e-RS.

If you're a provider, these resources will help you meet the CQUIN requirements:

icon CQUIN guidance [359.2KB]  
icon Directory of Services [252.03KB]  
icon Clinical Assessment Services [106.85KB]  
icon CQUIN template [3.68MB]  

Advice and guidance

The advice and guidance CQUIN (section 7) requires providers to set up and operate advice and guidance services for non-urgent GP referrals, allowing GPs to access consultant advice prior to referring patients into secondary care. Deliverables in the e-RS roadmap will help providers meet the targets set out in the advice and guidance CQUIN.

icon This case study [245.5KB] explains how the Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Trust use advice and guidance to support teledermatology services, streamline patient pathways and to help reduce the pressure on outpatient services.

The Standard Contract for 2018/19

The Standard Contract for 2018/19 requires the full use of e-RS for all consultant led first outpatient appointments.

From 1 October 2018, providers will only be paid for activity resulting from referrals made through e-RS. Further guidance will be released in 2017, explaining non-payment arrangements. This will support local health communities to plan for the Paper Switch Off for elective referrals.

Also in this section


Enhanced advice and guidance

Find out about enhanced Advice and Guidance, which has been delivered in 2 phases

Online patient booking service

Patients can book, change or cancel their appointments online. This new service will replace the current system and improve the patient experience.

Referral Assessment Services

This page details new functionality, which will provide the ability to triage referrals before booking an appointment for patients, both to support complex clinical pathways and to help reduce demand to elective care services.

Follow-up appointments

Information and updates about follow-up appointments.

Advanced reporting

Information and updates on the advanced reporting enhancement.

Paper switch off programme and documents

Working with referrers, providers and commissioners, we've created a guide to support the delivery of paper switch off in a local health community. You can also download the referenced documents.

Referral information from Appointment Slot Issue worklists

This enhancement will allow visibility of clinical referral information from the Appointment Slot Issues (ASI) worklist.

Have a question about the e-Referral Service? Please contact

We use cookies to provide you with a better service. Carry on browsing if you're happy with this, or find out how to manage cookies. Find out more