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PoundsMarch 14 2016

NHS England is providing £55 million to encourage greater uptake of digital referrals for patients’ hospital appointments.

At the moment around 50% of patients are referred for hospital appointments electronically. It is intended this will increase rapidly to 60% by September 2016, 80% by 2017 and 100% by 2018, said NHS England.

Key actions announced as part of the initiative are:

  • NHS England will release up to £55m of funding through the 2016-7 Quality Premium to encourage clinical commissioning groups to support GPs and hospitals to adopt the practice of electronic referrals;
  • there will be further payments for hospitals to adopt the practice of processing electronic referrals next year through a 2017-18 Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN);
  • in 2018, NHS England and NHS Improvement will consult on whether the requirement to complete and process referrals electronically becomes a condition of the national tariff meaning that commissioners and providers would no longer be paid for referrals made by paper.

National Audit Office figures suggest that patients are 50% less likely to miss their hospital appointment if they have chosen the date themselves. It has estimated that the NHS could save £51 million a year if every referral was made online, by reducing the number of missed appointments and increasing efficiency.

NHS England’s Director of Digital Technology Beverley Bryant said: “For a long time, our first class healthcare system has been let down by outmoded systems, where patients are referred to hospital by second class post. We have a duty of care that extends beyond providing effective treatments. We must also provide an effective patient experience that ensures patients feel reassured at a time when they are most vulnerable.”

Link:

NHS England announcement

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