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Bulk service update – NHS e-Referral Service

Guidance and recommendations on how the NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS) allows service provider organisations to directly configure the Patient Administration Systems (PAS) for multiple Directly Bookable Services (DBS), rather than updating each service individually.


The launch of the NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS) in June 2015 introduced new functionality which allows service provider organisations to directly configure their patient administration systems (PAS) for multiple directly bookable services, rather than updating each service, one-by-one. This functionality, called a ‘Bulk Service Update’ allows users with the service definer role to update multiple directly bookable services (DBS) with amended or replacement PAS reference information.

This guidance is intended for PAS IT suppliers and service provider organisations with directly bookable services to understand how to use the new bulk service update functionality so it can be utilised as part of a planned upgrade or replacement PAS project. The guidance also includes recommended business processes which should be considered to minimise the impact that any PAS changes could incur.

Performing a bulk service update

This section describes how to update the service provider organisations and/or provider system details (also known as an ASID) for multiple DBS services in one action, in bulk, saving you the time of revising each individual service, one by one. This may occur when your organisation replaces or upgrades the PAS. When this happens it is necessary to ensure that the new PAS system is linked to e-RS, maintaining service continuity. The bulk update function can only be applied to directly bookable services.

These changes to publish e-RS services should be made outside of normal working hours. This is due to the bulk service update being applied immediately to directly bookable services. Following this, if a referrer or patient attempts to book an appointment the chosen slot may be from the previous PAS/Slot harvest and will fail to book, resulting in an Appointment Slot Issue (ASI).

Steps to bulk update a provider system

  1. Log in to e-RS as a Service Definer and select the Bulk Service Update tab

Screen shot of an e-RS bulk service update screen

  1. Set the directly bookable search filter to Yes
  2. Select the services to update by placing a tick in each box against organisations, sites or individual services - Caution is required when making this selection, to ensure that only required services have the alternate PAS information applied
  3. Place a tick in the Enable tick box to make the rest of the information editable
  4. Display the options in the provider system drop down list and choose the required system identifier
  5. If the organisation and relevant provider system is different from the current one, click the Modify Organisation button
  6. Click Update to save your changes
  7. Click Clear to exit the page without making changes

Points to remember

The below points should be considered when using the bulk service update functionality:

  • only those who are familiar with the e-RS service definer role should undertake changes to services, including the use of the bulk service update
  • the bulk service update should only be performed outside of normal business hours to minimise impact to patients, referrers and others
  • if the PAS transition includes a migration of current appointments it is critical to ensure that appointment cancellation messages are not generated by the old or replacement PAS systems as this may result in patient appointments being cancelled

Considerations for large scale PAS migration

The below recommendations should be considered by all service provider organisations planning to change their provider system details, especially when planning a large scale migration from one PAS to another:

  • create a test service on the directory of services and link this to the new PAS to verify polling and appointment bookings are working
  • the management of electronic referrals via e-RS prior to and following any PAS outage should be considered including the management of appointment slot issues (ASIs) and the rejected cancellations worklist
  • the appointment line (TAL) should also be advised of any planned outages which may impact patients on 0345 60 88 88 8
  • slot reservation needs to be considered when switching to an alternate PAS so that all new appointments can be made immediately available
  • service providers must ensure that the patient facing contact details have been completed including the hours of operation
  • commissioners and local referrers should always be informed and updated with PAS transition plans including any outage periods and local business continuity plans
  • prior to completing a bulk service update check the NHS Digital live service information pages for any planned outages
  • during the PAS migration and once the bulk service update has been performed  it is recommended that you:
    1. perform a manual slot poll for a small number of services
    2. perform an appointment booking and appointment cancellation to ensure that they are working as expected
    3. escalate any issues so that they can be investigated and resolved prior to normal business hours


The NHS Digital e-Referral Service programme team is available to support service provider organisations when planning activities for future PAS changes.

Please contact the team by emailing

Last edited: 27 January 2020 3:15 pm