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GPs get ‘e-traffic light’ system for hospital referrals



NHS England begins national roll out of Capacity Alert function to show which hospitals have excessive waiting times

An “e-traffic light system” has been added to the NHS e-Referrals Service (e-RS) to steer GP referrals towards hospitals with shorter waiting times.

NHS England said it is ready to begin using the Capacity Alert System around the country after trials in north-east and south-west London showed that it reduced the number of referrals to overbooked hospitals.

The system for GP referrals has been tweaked, with a red light appearing against a hospital with longer waiting times while a green light shows those with spare capacity.

The trials showed the red lights reduced referrals to overbooked hospitals by nearly 40%, while green lights increased referrals to hospitals with available capacity by 14% this winter.

The Capacity Alert system was developed after NHS England commissioned the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) to come up with ways of helping hospital trusts ease pressure on services.

Matthew Swindells, NHS England Director for Operations and Information, said: “This system makes it even easier for GPs and patients to understand hospital waiting times which will in turn see benefits for patients and hospitals.

“The Capacity Alert system is a good example of how smarter working and relatively simple innovations can lead to another big improvement in NHS services.”

The BIT is helping NHS England roll out the scheme by holding a series of masterclasses and workshops across the country, as well as producing a how-to guide for GPs and local NHS bodies.

Image by jfcherry, CC BY-SA 2.0 through flickr

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