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What is e-referral

E-referral is a service that lets you choose your hospital or clinic and book your first appointment.

When you and your GP agree that you need an appointment, you can choose which hospital or clinic you go to. You will also be able to choose the date and time of your appointment.

The benefits of e-referral:

  • You can choose any hospital in England funded by the NHS (this includes NHS hospitals and some independent hospitals).  More information about hospitals is available on the NHS Choices website.
  • You can choose the date and time of your appointment.
  • You experience greater convenience and certainty.  With e-referral, the choice is yours.
  • There is less chance that information will get lost in the post because more correspondence takes place through computers.

What does e-referral mean for me?

As well as giving you a choice of hospital, date and time for your appointment, e-referral will also give you the ability to:

  • plan and manage around your existing appointments, if you are currently undergoing treatment
  • fit your treatment in with your other commitments, at home and at work
  • choose appointments that fit with your carer's schedule
  • check the status of your referral and to change or cancel your appointments easily over the phone or on the internet.

How does e-referral work?

When you and your GP agree that you need an appointment with a specialist, e-referral shows your GP which hospitals or clinics are available for your treatment.  Your GP discusses with you the clinically appropriate options that are available for treating your medical condition.

If you know where and when you would like to be seen, you may be able to book your appointment before you leave the surgery.  You will be given confirmation of the place, date and time of your appointment.

You may want more time to consider your choices.  If so, you can take the Appointment Request letter away with you and book your appointment later.  Your Appointment Request letter lists your unique booking reference number, your NHS numberand a list of hospital or clinic options for you to choose from.  Your GP practice will also give you a password with your Appointment Request letter.

You can then decide how you wish to book your appointment; via the telephone, using the national number on the letter or via the internet.  Please note that whilst the vast majority of appointments can be booked this way, in some cases you will need to telephone your chosen hospital directly to make your appointment.   This is because the hospital computer does not link to e-referral.  This will change over time as the old hospital computers are replaced with new ones.

Can I book all my appointments through e-referral?

When you and your GP agree that you need an appointment with a specialist, you can book your first hospital or clinic appointment using e-referral.

Choosing your hospital

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