NHS England is making significant steps towards the health secretary Jeremy Hunt's pledge for a paperless NHS by aiming for 100 per cent of GP practices to begin using its new e-Referrals Service.
Those in GP jobs will not be required to use the service or incentivised, however they will be encouraged to come on board and find out more about it, including how it can be developed to meet the needs of different practices.
Pulse reports that the plans for a new e-Referral Service are a revamped version of Choose and Book, based on similar online options available for people looking to book flights.
A spokesperson for NHS England told the publication that this is an important step towards reducing waste and embracing more efficient technology.
They said: "Achieving paperless referrals is an important step on the pathway to a paperless NHS by 2018. In terms of timing, there will be a gradual evolution from Choose and Book to the new e-Referral Service.
"It is clearly inefficient to have dual systems with a mixed economy of paper and electronic referrals and we must ensure that everyone is onboard in making paperless referrals a reality."
The Choose and Book facility has already proved successful in many practices, with over 40 million referrals from GP to first outpatient appointments made since 2004, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
It reports that the service is used to refer around 40,000 patients each day and between April and May this year over half of referrals were made through this system - with 91 per cent of practices making at least some of their referrals through it.
After much research and investigation the NHS has been developing the e-Referral Service to better meet the needs of its wide range of users. This has been taken into account and over the next six months NHS England encourages feedback, ideas and suggestions as to how it is working, what it should include and how it can be improved.
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