The PRSB is working to improve the quality of information sent in GP referral letters, so that hospital consultants can reduce inappropriate referrals and better manage heavy caseloads.

This work is essential given the ageing population and the number of people living with long-term conditions who need ongoing care. Currently there are also differences between GP systems and GP practices in the clinical content of referrals, with multiple templates in use. Although appointments can be booked online through the NHS Digital e-referrals service (NHS e-RS), many hospitals are still receiving paper letters.

Project targets

Working with clinicians and patients, the PRSB will work to develop evidence-based standardised headings for referral letters and implementation guidance for electronic referrals from GPs to hospitals. Our aim is to produce standards that are practical to use, provide hospital clinicians with what they need to respond to a referral, help patients get the right care and help GPs to communicate the right information.

The scope of the project will be confirmed through discussion with stakeholders, with a project initiation document produced to confirm the final scope. Following a period of evidence gathering, we will hold a workshop, survey and consultation process. We expect a standard to be delivered in the first quarter of 2018.

Get involved

When finished, the clinical referral letters standard will complete our suite of transfer of care standards, and will enable hospital consultants to reduce inappropriate referrals and better manage heavy caseloads.

PROJECT UPDATE: Workshop

Working in conjunction with NHS Digital and the Royal College of Physician’s Health Informatics Unit, the PRSB held a workshop on 9 January for more than 40 patients and professionals, to discuss the information that needs to be recorded when a person is being referred for further treatment.Work on this project is essential to support the ageing population and the number of people living with long-term conditions who receive ongoing care. Our aim is to produce standards that are practical to use, provide hospital clinicians with what they need to respond to a referral, help patients get the right care and help GPs to communicate the right information.

"Good information sharing between primary and secondary care is highly beneficial for both professionals and patients,” said Dr Neill Jones of NHS Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield CCG, one of the clinical leads on the project. “Professionals can share and find relevant information in a timely manner, resulting in safer and more consistent care for the people receiving it. It leads to less duplication of tests for example, and means that patients can be better managed, treated more quickly and redirected to other services where necessary. Overall this standardisation will lead to better and safer care."

Co-lead on the project, Dr Gareth Thomas of Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust added: “From my experience as a clinician, getting timely, accurate information is essential so that patients can get rapid access to the right services they need.”

KEY DATES

Project start date: December 2017
Standard due for publication: Summer 2018

Consultation process
Workshop: 9th January 2018 (completed)
Survey: Feb -March 2018 (completed)

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