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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.

Oct 2020 Nov 2020 Dec 2020 Jan 2021 Feb 2021 Mar 2021
Keeping system up-to-date and secure to give every user confidence in how their data is being stored and used A range of technical changes that make sure e-RS stays up to date and uses the best possible technology for all its future development

Further upgrades to the e-RS system to maintain the security of the system. This will also support the ability for e-RS to work better with other NHS Digital systems

Make it easier for health professionals to have conversations about their patients. This will help them decide on the best way to get patients the treatment they need       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    
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

Allow patients to view and manage their referrals using the NHS App (delivered)

Hospital teams will be able to get more patient information into their own systems about more referrals (delivered)

  GPs and other referrers will be able to use their existing systems to find and book appointments for their patients (delivered)  

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

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


Hospital users will be able to use their own system to manage the discussion with GPs and other referrers about a patient’s referral
Make the use of e-RS easier and faster so clinicians spend less time on administration and more time on patients’ care      

Development work to support a new ‘virtual’ appointment type

Exploratory tasks looking at:

  1. e-RS sending larger file sizes and different file types
  2. how the management and availability of data can be improved
  Improving the way that professionals view and manage patient information in e-RS

This roadmap was published on 15 December 2020.

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

We are currently finalising the e-RS future roadmap, based on user requirements. An updated version will be published soon.

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 April 2021 1:20 pm