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NHS e-Referral Service integrated into the NHS App to make managing referrals easier

Patients are now able to easily and safely book and manage their e-RS referrals through the NHS App, reducing non-attendance of appointments and saving GPs’ time.

Patients are now able to easily and safely book and manage their e-RS referrals through the NHS App1, reducing non-attendance of appointments and saving GPs’ time.

GPs are now able to email appointment booking details for the NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS) directly to patients with an NHS login2. Those patients are then able to securely access the NHS Manage Your Referral website directly from the NHS App, saving on having to print and post booking instructions3.

This functionality, live since October 2020, has demonstrable benefits. Research has shown that when patients book their own appointments, the ‘did not attend’ rate can reduce by up to half, so patients are treated quickly while practices don’t need to refer patients again.

Martin O’Keeffe, Senior Clinical Lead at NHS Digital said: “We’ve put the power back into patients’ hands, giving them another digital route to book and manage their own hospital appointments.

“The NHS App will provide an easy, quick and secure way to do this on the move, meaning many patients won’t have to wait for their referral details in the post before they book their first appointment.

“The NHS App currently has over 2 million verified users. With 40% of e-RS appointments currently being booked by practice staff, this provides a powerful push for primary care to introduce their patients to the benefits of the NHS App, and save themselves and the wider NHS both time and money.

“This will make the whole process smoother and simpler for everyone involved and ultimately will improve patient care.

“This is part of a series of improvements that are being made to the NHS e-Referral service designed to help clinicians and patients.”

The NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS) provides an easy way for patients to choose their first hospital or clinic appointment with a specialist. Bookings can be made online, using the telephone, or directly in the GP surgery at the time of referral.


Notes for editors

  1. Owned and run by the NHS, the NHS App is a simple and secure way to access a range of NHS services on your smartphone or tablet. It is available to all patients aged 13 and over who are registered with a GP practice in England and enables users to do things like order repeat prescriptions, book and cancel appointments at their GP surgery, and view their GP medical record. Depending on what clinical system your practice uses you can also access these services on behalf of someone you care for, and send non-urgent messages to your GP. For more information and to download the app visit

  2. NHS login is a single, secure login that enables people to access health and social care apps and websites that have an NHS login button.

  3. Patients without a smartphone, but with a home computer, can book their appointments online safely, securely and easily at with their booking reference number, password and year of birth, or their NHS login details.

  4. NHS Digital is the national information and technology partner of the health and care system.  Our team of information analysis, technology and project management experts create, deliver and manage the crucial digital systems, services, products and standards upon which health and care professionals depend. Our vision is to harness the power of information and technology to make health and care better.

Last edited: 26 October 2023 3:31 pm