NHS England announces £55 million cash boost to end hospital referrals by second class post
NHS England has set aside £55 million to reward GPs and hospitals to switching to making referrals digitally by 2018, calling time on the practice of referring patients to hospital by second class post.
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.
England and NHS Improvement also plan to consult on a proposal that by 2018 NHS
commissioners and providers will no longer be paid for referrals made by paper.
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
- To encourage clinical
commissioning groups (CCGs) to support GPs and hospitals to adopt the
practice of electronic referrals, NHS England will release up to £55m of
funding through the 2016-7 Quality Premium, a scheme designed to reward
CCGs for improvements in quality of services.
- 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), which recognises excellence and improvement in providers.
- 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.
referrals electronically allows GPs to book in patients’ hospital appointments
right away and offer them a choice of date. Under these plans, patients
will leave their GP practice with a scheduled appointment in the diary, ending
the days of anxious waits for the post to arrive and frustrating calls to chase
research undertaken by the National Audit Office (NAO) reveals patients are 50%
less likely to miss their hospital appointment if they have chosen the date
themselves. Reducing missed appointments frees up clinical time to be spent
with other patients and leads to significant financial savings for hospital
trusts. The NAO suggests the NHS could save £51 million a year if every
referral was made online.
initiative is part of an NHS wide drive to increase efficiency which includes
making the best use of technology.