As a result of the introduction of an electronic referral system, patients across East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen are starting to benefit from a more efficient process when their GP refers them for a hospital appointment.
From the 31 July 2018 all consultant-led first appointments will be made electronically rather than by other, more traditional methods; for example letter, fax or email. This is a key element in the move to being a paperless NHS.
East Lancashire Hospital Trust (ELHT) together with NHS East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are working together to support this national programme of work across Pennine Lancashire.
Dr Joe Kallarackel, a GP at Kiddrow Medical Practice in Burnley, said: “This is really good news as it means that patients can now book or change their appointment online using their mobile phone or tablet which will save time for both themselves and their GP.
“The electronic referrals system will help to provide a smoother, quicker service by reducing GP paperwork, and providing greater access to appointment availability”.
John Bannister, Director of Operations for ELHT said “The NHS e-referral system really is a good news story and it is encouraging to note that we already have a number of local GP practises who are confidently using the system. We will work together with both CCGs during the roll out of the service to ensure that all our patients continue to receive the high-quality care they deserve.”
In Pennine Lancashire, the ‘switch-off’ from paper referrals to electronic referrals is happening in two stages. The dates are as follows:
• 1 May 2018 – referrals under the 2 week wait rule (suspected cancer)
• 31 July 2018 – all other referrals
The move will provide a range of benefits including greater choice of appointment date and time for patients. It is estimated that there will also be a reduction in missed appointments which will reduce waiting times.