While 3D printing is becoming more widely used in general engineering the use of 3D printing in the medical and allied sectors such as dentistry has only just begun.
Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and County Durham & Darlington NHS Foundation Trust are now processing all of their hospital referral appointments electronically via the NHS e-Referral Service.
Electronic referral appointments allows patients to decide on an appointment at a date and time that suits them and at the hospital of their choice, limiting the likelihood of cancelled appointments or patients not turning up. Electronic bookings also reduces hospital’s paperwork and saves millions of pounds for the NHS.
Analysis shows that the use of electronic referrals has halved the rate of patients missing appointments from 10 per cent to five per cent.
NHS Digital launched a new NHS e-Referrals website in April, allowing patients to use their mobile phone or tablet to book an appointment, or change or cancel an appointment if necessary. Old paper methods are being phased out across all trusts and, from 1 October 2018, providers will no longer be paid for activity which results from referrals made other than through the NHS e-Referral Service.
Morgan Thanigasalam, clinical lead for ICT at Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust, said:
“We are extremely proud to be the first trust to achieve 100 per cent GP e-referrals. It is just one example of how we are looking at taking a digital ethos forward as a trust, and making our systems more efficient. We are committed to having patients and staff supported by IT to get the very best service, rather than the other way round.”
Sarah Perkins, director of performance at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We’re delighted to be pioneers in the introduction of e-referrals which have many benefits for our patients. Following their appointment with a GP at which the need for a referral to see a consultant is agreed, patients can choose to take a unique booking reference number home and make the appointment themselves. This enables them to see the availability and make an appointment for the date and time of their choosing, receiving instant confirmation. When patients prefer not to do this themselves, GP practices can make the booking for them.”