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The NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS) is used to make around 70,000 referrals daily. A full record of these is available in the application, with a wealth of information that can be used when making commissioning decisions and managing referrals.


When fully implemented, the e-RS will deliver a better patient and professional experience, along with efficiency and financial benefits to referrer and provider organisations.

Find out more about the benefits of e-RS.

Find out how e-RS can support clinical commissioning.

Using the e-RS to support effective clinical commissioning

Analysis of referral patterns using e-RS data can help provide reliable information to support responsive commissioning. Information and data can be accessed from reports and extracts and the Directory of Services.

More information is available in the following resources:

Commissioning in the NHS e-Referral Service.

Best practice guidelines.

Best practice guidelines for commissioners.

Information security and patient information.

Independent sector provider guidance.

Moving to direct booking.

Capacity Alerts

The NHS Digital Capacity Alert Guidance details how capacity alerts work within the NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS).

This functionality allows NHS England to provide an alert mechanism to referrers that indicates e-RS services where there are capacity issues.

This helps trusts move demand away from their services during periods of pressure and alerts referrers to capacity hotspots, as well as signposting alternative services that do have capacity.

Delivering Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention

Outpatient Pathway Modelling Tool

The Outpatient Pathway Modelling Tool (OPMT) compares a service provider's current referral management processes with a best practice process model and identifies where savings in time and costs can be made.

To get started, read the user guide and then launch the tool.

Training materials

For quick reference guides and e-learning, visit our training pages for referrers and service providers.

You can also access information from the Help function within the e-RS, or if you're on an N3 connection you can access it without logging in

Organisations commissioning services from providers new to e-RS have a responsibility to support the provider to:

The materials provided by NHS Digital can support these requirements, however we recommend that local training is also provided.

Further guidance information can be found in our document library.

National Training Forum

The National Training Forum has been established to provide open and regular communication channels between the e-RS national training team and a representative panel of e-RS trainers (and/or representatives who are responsible for e-RS training) from the NHS and independent sector. 

The forum members currently meet bi-monthly, via a webinar, to:

  • review both delivered and scheduled system release content
  • discuss forthcoming functional changes and provide system demonstrations
  • consult and seek feedback on learning products and ideas
  • allow opportunities to share thoughts, knowledge and ask advice from other e-RS colleagues

Guest speakers are also invited to the meetings to cover learning or system related topics.

As part of a forum members role, the programme and other NHS Digital teams may ask for support to feed into training related research and to review learning materials.

If you're an e-RS trainer (or have responsibility for e-RS training) and wish to become a member of the forum, please send your interest request and job role to

Last edited: 31 July 2019 2:03 pm