NHS England has claimed that its new e-Referral service will operate at around 20 per cent of the costs of its predecessor, the retiring Choose and Book programme.
In an interview with a UK IT publication, the organisation revealed that it wouldn’t be publishing exact costs for its new e-Referral programme, but could claim it expected the new system to be a lot cheaper than the former service.
Earlier this month, the Health Service announced contracts for the Choose and Book scheme were coming to an end, meaning the service would be retired in favour of a new one.
Originally introduced in 2004, Choose and Book was a way for outpatients to book hospital appointments online.
Although the scheme was praised by some, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee claimed it had been a “missed opportunity” and opportunities for savings had been missed.
NHS England says it will take the successful elements of this programme and build on them to form the e-Referral service.
The organisation has also revealed that testing has been in progress for some time now and the expected go live date is now November this year, with testing ongoing until deployment.
Before it can go live, says NHS England, the new software must be checked to make sure that it is fully functional, clinically safe and that partner systems can properly integrate with it easily.
NHS England says that a number of contracts have been agreed with suppliers for the e-Referral scheme, including IT firm BJSS.
This company was brought in during the initial phase developments via the G-Cloud procurement framework.
Further tenders will be issued this year and beyond to support the ongoing development of the replacement Choose and Book.