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Important future changes to the NHS e-Referral Service

National guidance has been published setting clear expectations for health and care organisations who want to use cloud services, and who want to remove dependency on N3 or HSCN networks in order to provide access to its systems to a wider set of users over the public Internet.

In response to this Government and NHS Digital drive to increase accessibility to NHS systems, NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS) will be making changes to its URLs by early September 2019. This includes new URLs for the Professional Application, the Patient Application (MYR – Manage Your Referral), API endpoints as well as all Partner Test systems.

There will be a period in which both the existing and the new URLs will work together to allow a smooth transition. However, it is critical that each organisation confirms that its network configurations will indeed allow its users and systems continued access to e-RS using the new URLs. 

All organisations will need to ensure that they have tested these URLs and taken action if they cannot reach them. This will affect all organisations, regardless of any current or future dependencies they have on N3/HSCN.

Patients

For patients currently accessing the service manage your referral at https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/nhs-services/hospitals/nhs-e-referral-service/, there will be no requirement to take any action. The relevant link on this page will be updated with no impact to users.

For those patients who access Manage Your Referral directly, any saved browser bookmarks will need updating to refer.nhs.uk to coincide with the migration (date to be confirmed).

Professional Users

All users of the professional application will need to ensure that any saved browser bookmarks currently in use are updated to point at the new URL (ers.nhs.uk) to coincide with the migration (date to be confirmed).

IT Departments/Suppliers

IT departments/suppliers will need to ensure that the new URLs can be accessed by all of their users. View the full technical detail.

Integrated System Suppliers

Integrated system suppliers who connect to e-RS Path to Live (PTL) environments will also need to ensure that they can access the new URLs. View the full technical detail.

If you have any questions or feedback, please contact the e-RS technical team at ers.tech@nhs.net

Frequently Asked Questions

When do bookmarks and desktop shortcuts require updating?

At the point of cut-over, organisations will be able to use either https://nww.ebs.ncrs.nhs.uk or https://ers.nhs.uk i.e. both will work and the users will be redirected to the right place.

In the weeks following the migration, the organisations will be required to stop using the old link (https://nww.ebs.ncrs.nhs.uk) and update any bookmarks they may have to point to the new one (https://ers.nhs.uk).  After the cut-over, the old link will enter a sunset period of several months after which it will stop being in use, rendering any bookmarks invalid.

Updates on the timing for all of the above will be confirmed in the coming weeks  through this page.

I am unable to see the new URL, what should I do?

You need to ensure that your local IT helpdesk is made aware of the URLs. They will need to change the configuration of the local firewalls in order to permit access. The technical notes  provide sufficient information to assist in the resolution of this issue.

Do we need to test whether the Smartcard authentication and Identity Agent works on the new URL?

We are not making any changes to the Smartcard authentication; therefore, testing of Identity Agent and Smartcards will not be required.

For the e-RS changes, is this purely the new FHIR-based e-RS APIs (meaning those documented at https://developer.nhs.uk/apis/e-Referrals/index.html) and excludes the legacy C&B components (MIM 3.1.09, etc) that also fall under the e-RS banner?

Legacy messaging (MIM) will remain the same as this involves communicating with Spine TMS and not e-RS directly.

The e-RS APIs will however be accessible only via the internet.

Will the new URLs be hosted both on N3/HSCN and the internet, or is it Internet only (for example, for servers that have N3/HSCN-only access, will this need to change)?

Each URL can only be linked to one IP address which is either in the N3/HSCN address range or is a public internet IP address. The new URLs will only be accessible from the Internet and not N3 or HSCN.

Are there any plans to move any other Spine services over to be internet accessible (for example, PDS, authentication) and if so are there any timescales?

Yes, there are plans to make all NHS services available over the public internet. For specific timelines please contact the appropriate teams (such as Spine).

Given that the IP addresses of the servers are due to become dynamic, Is there a specific address range for the ers.nhs.uk domain and its sub-domains that I need to add to my firewalls and routing tables so that I can configure them and test access to the new server URLs?

Many major websites now have dynamic IP addresses and there are no specific ranges that we can confirm.  It would therefore be best if all outbound  HTTPS traffic (on port 443) was approved on your firewalls – it is encrypted and safe.

Last edited: 10 June 2019 8:45 am