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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 and our user feedback process.

NHS e-Referral Service vision

"To provide NHS and partner organisations with a referral service that empowers patients to obtain the best care - first time, every time.​"

NHS e-Referral Service principles

Future service roadmap

Our roadmap shows system enhancements and their planned delivery dates.

April/May 2021 June/July 2021 August/September 2021 October/November 2021 December 2021 Coming next
Enable e-RS and other systems to ‘talk’ to each other to allow clinicians to spend more time on patient care and less time switching between IT systems

Changes in how hospital systems can download information about all referrals on the Appointment Slot Issues worklist have been introduced through new APIs*. This makes it easier for clinicians to see patients’ referral information - Delivered

*Application Programming Interfaces

  Changes (additional APIs) which will allow providers to manage referrals into Referral Assessment Services (RAS) through their own clinical systems, saving time for clinicians and avoiding the need to switch systems - Delivered   Development work to allow e-RS APIs to be used over the Internet in the future -
Allowing referring organisations to use APIs to create and manage Advice & Guidance in their own systems, saving clinical time and removing the need for clinicians to switch systems
Make the use of e-RS easier and faster so clinicians spend less time on administration and more time on patients’ care  

Improvements to the referrer screens – first phase introducing a new referral summary screen, providing all information about a referral in one place, saving time for GPs and their teams - Delivered

The introduction of a new Post-COVID-19 Specialty and clinic types, to support providers making these services available on e-RS and patients getting faster access to care - Delivered

Technical changes to support improved referral reporting, leading to improved access to e-RS data for everyone - Delivered

Improvements to Advice and Guidance reporting, making it easier for providers to see who has responded to an advice request, helping clinicians plan their time more effectively - Delivered

November 21 - Phase 2 of the enhancements to referrer screens, improving how worklists are presented, saving time when managing patients’ referrals - Delivered

Changes to the date shown to patients, on letters or Manage Your Referral, by when they can expect to be contacted by providers, following a defer to provider action or the sending of a triage request (for routine referrals only) -

As part of the technical preparatory activities for allowing larger and more file types to be supported by e-RS, changes will be made to allow DICOM file types to be supported by e-RS (for users accessing e-RS through the web-based portal or new Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and not through integrated referrer systems) -

Improvements to the size and type of files that can be shared through e-RS, supporting getting patients seen more quickly in the right place

The ability for providers to redirect a referral, after they have accepted it, allowing providers to move patients to more appropriate services, helping outpatient recovery

Improvements to patient letters and communication – keeping patients more involved in their care and removing work from GPs/referrers

Allowing a referral shortlist of provider choices to contain both bookable and triage (RAS) services, supporting patients being able to choose their provider

Make e-RS available to a wider range of users who do not have access to the Health & Social Care Network (HSCN) Background technical updates including preparatory work for e-RS being available to new users - Delivered Further background technical updates including preparatory work for e-RS being available to new users - Delivered       Making APIs available to support users who do not have access to the Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) and allowing new clinicians and organisations to use e-RS
Keeping the system up to date and secure to give every user confidence in how their data is being stored and used A continuous range of technical changes that make sure e-RS stays up to date and uses the best possible technology for all its current and future development

This roadmap was published on 10 December 2021.

The roadmap details are correct as of the published date and subject to change.

User feedback process

Thanks to user feedback, the NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS) is continually improving to make it easier, quicker and more convenient to use. This helps e-RS to support your needs and provide a better user experience.

You can provide suggestions on how to improve e-RS by requesting a ‘user need request form’ from

Once we receive your suggestion, we then follow the below steps:

  1. Acknowledge receipt of the suggestion
  2. Log the user need with the e-RS programme
  3. Review the user needs

User needs are then fed back to the user, they will fall into one of five categories:

  1. More information required 
  2. User need accepted - this will then be included in future research and development where appropriate
  3. Duplicate user need
  4. User need already in progress
  5. Unsuitable

All user needs are added to the e-RS requirements log and grouped into ‘themes’ of areas of the system, for example the Directory of Services or Worklists. When any system change is being explored in these areas, all existing user needs are reviewed and fed into the research process to confirm – or otherwise – their inclusion in the future system development.

If users indicate that they would like to be included in the research process, they will be contacted by the e-RS programme research team as work is planned in the relevant functional area so they can be involved with other users.

Due to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, it may be some time before we are able to provide any feedback on new suggestions.

We will continue to review and log all user needs received for consideration in future research, design and development work, so new ideas will not be lost.

Last edited: 10 December 2021 3:37 pm