GPs face disruption to hospital referrals as Choose and Book is phased out

GPs may experience technical issues as the Choose and Book system - which handles half of GP outpatient referrals - moves to the new e-Referral service (ERS) this weekend, officials have warned.

E-referral service to replace Choose and Book
E-referral service to replace Choose and Book

At 7pm on Friday 12 June, the Choose and Book system will be closed down, with the e-Referral service kicking in on the morning of Monday 15 June to replace it.

Around 65m referrals are made through Choose and Book per year - including 50% of GP outpatient referrals.

Ben Gildersleve, NHS ERS programme director, said user testing had pre-empted some technical issues, but that some problems were likely to remain.

‘Inevitably there’ll be some issues next week, but we’re optimistic we’ve covered the vast majority of them,’ he said.

No major changes

Referring GPs will not see any major changes to the booking system despite a complete overhaul in its technical workings, but the transition will mean more improvements can be made to the website in future, the team added.

‘We will keep users informed about known issues from ‘go live’, and be open and honest about what they can expect,’ said ERS medical director Dr Stephen Miller.

Dr Miller said that the aim was for the ERS to be the the single source of referrals and booking services in the NHS, but the ‘challenge is for everyone to want to use the system’.

Once the service is running and initial problems have been ‘stabilised’, the team will begin planning for further developments.

Users have requested the ability to add follow-up appointments, mobile apps, and patient self-referrals.

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