NEW STANDARD: Digital clinical referral information will support faster, better patient care

We have published our new standard for sharing clinical referral information, which will help to reduce avoidable referrals, speed up treatment times and make care better and safer for patients.

Referrals to hospital are increasing as more people continue to live longer with a range of complex conditions. As a result, good information sharing is integral to ensuring that patients can receive the ongoing care that they need. Currently there are differences between GP systems and GP practices in the clinical content of referrals, with multiple templates in use.

We have consulted widely with clinicians and other health and care professionals as well as patients and system suppliers before publishing the new standard and implementation guidance for digital referrals from GPs to hospitals. Once implemented, this will improve the exchange of referral information from GPs to hospital consultants and other professionals providing outpatient services. The standard was produced in collaboration with the Royal College of Physicians Health Informatics Unit, with input from the Royal College of General Practitioners.

“From my experience as a clinician, getting timely, accurate information is essential so that patients can get rapid access to the right services, said Dr Gareth Thomas, the PRSB’s clinical advisor to the programme and group chief clinical information officer at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust. “A standardised referral process means people can then be triaged appropriately on to the best pathway of care, and as a result this will speed up referrals to specialist services.”

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, added: “The communications that clinicians in different areas of the NHS send to each other are critical as they contain the relevant information necessary to ensure our patients receive the best possible, safe, seamless care. We welcome this new standard from the PRSB that should simplify the process for sending e-referrals and ensure the communications sent are standardised, which is in everyone’s best interests.”

Although appointments can be booked online through the NHS Digital e-referrals service (NHS e-RS), some hospitals are still receiving letters by fax or email.

For further information, please contact info@theprsb.org