Skip to main content
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.

January - March 2021 April/May 2021 June/July 2021 August/September 2021 October/November 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

Referring clinicians who are using a different system to make their referrals through e-RS will be able to update attachments on a referral - Delivered

Hospital systems will be able to get details of all referrals that have come from e-RS into their own systems - Delivered

Hospital users will be able to use their own system to manage the Advice & Guidance discussion with GPs and other referrers about a patient’s referral - Delivered

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   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

Improving the way that doctors can change requests from advice to referral. This will speed up the process for professionals so they can spend more time helping patients - Delivered

Supporting providers managing virtual appointments, a new appointment type of ‘Telephone/Video’ is now available - Delivered



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

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

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 17 August 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: 19 August 2021 12:21 pm