The team manages the referral from that point on and check referrals to make sure they contain all the information that the hospital would need to see the patient.
For some referrals there will be a clinical assessment carried out on the referral to help decide whether the patient could be better cared for in a dedicated community clinic, or if an alternative treatment plan would be more effective.
There are many advantages for patients with the new system which will lead to an improvement in individual patient experience in St Helens. Some advantages are:
More patients are seen in the right place at the right time for their treatment
Patients avoid unnecessary attendances at hospitals which can cause distress and inconvenience for them and their carers
Patient Choice - Patients will be offered choice of provider of services and dedicated time to talk through any reasonable adjustments needed, for example to help people with a learning disability, access the services they need
The system will not only help individual patients but in the current financial climate will also help the CCG ensure that the money it spends on providing hospital care for its patients is spent in the best way. It is the CCG’s responsibility to deliver the best possible value for money in all of the services it puts into place and the new system will help to reduce waste and control demand for hospital services.
If your GP needs to refer you for a physical or mental health condition, in most cases you have a legal right to choose which hospital or service you go to, which includes many private and NHS hospitals that provide services to the NHS. You may also choose your clinical team led by a consultant or named healthcare professional. GP surgeries tend to refer to local hospitals and services however if you want to be referred somewhere else in the country or if you want your doctor to see if there is another hospital that can see you more quickly, ask your GP. If your GP thinks there is a clinical reason why you shouldn’t go somewhere else, they will tell you. You can choose a hospital or service based on whatever matters most to you – this could include waiting times, quality of service, your previous experience, the opinions of other patients, the location or your GP’s recommendation. This leaflet talks about some of the frequently asked questions that people have about choosing where to be referred to. If you want to find out more you can visit www.nhs.uk/patientchoice
NHS England in conjunction with the BMA and the National Association for Patient Participation (NAPP) has produced a leaflet with general information and a check list to explain your journey from your GP to the specialist. It’ll cover why you’ve been referred, what happens if you need a test/procedure and if you have any further questions for either you GP or specialist and who to contact and a checklist to ensure you have all the information for your journey.
In July NHS St Helens CCG launched a referral management system, which aimed to improve the quality of referrals to hospitals and lessen the burden of the administration time involved for GPs.
All referrals made by GPs to are sent to a dedicated reception and booking team which manage the referral from that point on. The team checks referrals to make sure they contain all the information that the hospital would need to see the patient and liaises with the practice if anything additional is needed.
For some referrals there will be a paper triage carried out on the referral to help decide whether the patient could be better cared for in a dedicated community clinic, or if alternative management would be more effective.
We have been talking to one practice about their experiences….
Jan Bonney, Medical Secretary from Four Acres Surgery said: “We absolutely love RMS – I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t be using it. We can now get through referrals much quicker and can pick them up throughout the day in between our other work which means we pretty much keep on top of our referrals.
“The old system when we had to go through Choose and Book was so time-consuming but through RMS it’s so much quicker; it feels like the booking team at the CSU is doing most of the work for us. And we are not getting as many queries from patients either, which also frees up our time to focus on other practice activities.
"The referral process before could often be challenging as sometimes we didn’t know who to refer the patient to, and it could be time consuming to find out but now all that has been taken away from us.
“We have up to 14 referrals a day so you can imagine how complicated it could be. And we would also be giving quite a lot of support to new registrars who were not familiar with our systems but with RMS, that has gone away as well. It really is a great system and everyone should be using it.”