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Onboarding process for connecting to the web-based NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS)

Find out how to use e-RS directly via the web-based professional application.


The information here will support users wanting to use e-RS directly via the web-based professional application.

If accessing e-RS through integration, via the Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), more information can be found in our API integration section.

Key considerations before going live with e-RS

Access to e-RS requires a number of things to be in place. It's important you understand each step before you proceed, there may be additional steps depending on your choice of authentication.

Understanding these activities will help you build an implementation and go-live plan.

1. Ensure there is a contract in place

Independent Sector Providers

Must have a contract agreed by one or more NHS Commissioner for each service they want to set up on the NHS e-Referral Service.


Must ensure that relevant commissioning organisations will recognise and pay for activity resulting from your referrals.

2. Obtain an Organisation Data Service (ODS) code, if required

An ODS code is required to access NHS Digital services.

3. Ensure there is a Registration Authority in place

The Registration Authority is responsible for authorising users and setting up devices and access modes.

The RA will need to add e-RS specific business roles.

4. Complete all governance checks

Your organisation must:

  1. Complete the Data Security and Protection (DSP) Toolkit
    Special care should be taken by organisations whose staff may use devices in less private settings, for example, applying screen filters
  2. Ensure Clinical Assurance is in place for your business processes including:
    • Appointing a named Clinical Safety Officer
    • Adhering to the DCB0160 standard (you may also request to view the NHS e-RS Clinical Safety Case and Hazard Logs)
5. Check your devices are compatible with e-RS

Review the specification for the device connecting to e-RS, ensuring these are aligned with the configuration requirements.

6. Decide how you want to access the e-RS Application

The following access control options are secure measures by which clinical and personal information is accessed by only those that have a valid reason to do so. The options have been updated to support the transition to move all e-RS professional users to authenticate access and roles via Care Identify Service 2 (CIS2) when accessing web-based e-RS application via the internet-facing URL (

Connection via HSCN connection


New e-RS can continue to use physical smartcards to access e-RS where existing infrastructure is in place. Even where smartcards are used, users must still access e-RS via the internet-facing URL. Local registration authority (RA) teams or RA providers will advise on local plans to transition RA services to CIS2 Authentication. Find out more about registration authority users.

HSCN connection not necessary

e-RS can be accessed via the public internet, where users are authenticated using CIS2. Any new organisations onboarding to e-RS should follow the guidance to use CIS2 and the internet-facing URL to access the professional e-RS application

Cross Platform Keys

Security keys where authenticated users can access the e-RS professional application across all their devices. Find out more about security Keys.

Windows Hello for Business

Access using a Windows device via PIN, facial recognition, or fingerprint. Find out more about accessing e-RS using Windows Hello for Business.

7. Learn more about the e-RS Application

Review the e-RS website for further information on using the application including setting up services, referring a patient, actioning referrals for both directly and indirectly bookable services and the training overview sessions available.

Going live with e-RS

When going live it's important you understand ongoing changes to the service, how to report things that are wrong and how to provide feedback.

Here are areas to consider:

  1. Ensure you are registered with the National Service Desk.
  2. Bookmark our release page so you can be aware of changes.
  3. Join the e-RS training forum.
  4. Set up a call with [email protected] so we can talk about how it is going.
  5. Raise a benefits case that will help the wider NHS.
  6. Familiarise yourself with the time constraints of e-RS sessions.

Last edited: 7 February 2024 10:17 am