GPs could be fined for failing to use NHS England’s new e-referral system, it has been revealed.
The system, which is due to be launched by the end of the year, has been modelled from popular flight-booking websites.
The update is key to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s plans to create a paperless NHS by 2018, which could deliver the government savings of £4.4 billion a year.
Management in Practice’s sister publication Pulse reported that NHS England is considering fines for practices that do not use the system by 2017.
Speaking to MPs on the Public Accounts Committee late last week, NHS England chief executive Sir David Nicholson said they are looking at an “incentive stroke penalty system” to maximise uptake.
The new system will allow ‘anyone to anyone’ referrals, including diagnostics. Patients will be able to book follow-up appointments using the system.
Sir David said: “GPs, of all our clinicians across the NHS, are probably the most technically advanced. They’ve got more digital systems than almost anybody. So it’s not that they’re frightened, they just don’t like the way the system works and it affects their patients they think they don’t want different ways, and we’ve been unable to persuade them of that.
“But I think we’re getting to the point here, where we’ve heard from e-referrals implementation, is that we want to get a system where we can make it a mandatory system as we go forward.”
He added: “The question we’ve got to ask is, in a sense – to get as wide a support for it as we can – and then: What is the incentive stroke penalty system we want to put in place to ensure that it actually works?”