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The NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS) has replaced the Choose and Book service. It allows GP’s to electronically refer patients to other healthcare service providers, usually hospitals. It provides the patient with a choice. As the referrer is not tied to a particular service provider, patients are free to choose which provider they wish to use, based on what’s important to them, for example waiting time, distance or clinician.
Service providers create services on e-RS and allocate appointments slots to these services on their local Patient Administration System (PAS).
The services must be defined against a list of clinic types, determined by NHS England. Within the definitions, services can be restricted in many ways, for example by gender or age. Services can either be national, available to anyone or locally commissioned services, available only to organisations within the care commissioning group.
Everyday e-RS polls service provider's PAS systems for available slots using the Transaction Messaging Service (TMS) in Spine Core. Slots can be published up to 180 days in advance which are then advertised within e-RS for referrers to see and book appointments.
Once the referral is made and the appointment booked, service providers can manage the process of referrals within the e-RS application, for example, triage or refer on to alternative services.