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Electronic Referrals

Electronic Clinical Communications for Wales

Eliminate paper referrals for patients needing hospital care

Family doctors at GP practices across Wales have switched to a new way of referring patients to hospital consultants.
The practices are replacing hand-delivered patient referral letters with an electronic referral. GPs across Wales refer around 650,000 patients a year, each requiring an individual letter.

The electronic referral system featured in the trial has been used successfully in Scotland for a number of years with over 95% of GP’s using the system. 
The Scottish system has been tailored to meet the needs of NHS Wales, following collaborative working between NHS Wales Informatics Service working with Scottish Executive's eHealth programme, the Scottish Care Information team, local GP practices, the Vale of Glamorgan Local Heath Board's Referral Management Centre, Cardiff and Vale and ABMU health boards.

How does it work?

The e-referral system, known as the Welsh Clinical Communications Gateway allows clinical messages to be sent securely from the GP to the hospital.

The system can manage messages 'from any to any' healthcare setting including other GPs or professions allied to medicine, from consultant to consultant or from organisation to organisation.

Benefits expected when using e-referrals

  • Referrals can be handled more easily and efficiently
  • Communication of clinical data is secure
  • Referral letters will not be 'lost in the post'
  • Use of templates can ensure hospitals receive a standard set of  information about each patient
  • Easy access to the referral gateway from the GP's computer system
  • Sections of the referral form are automatically populated by data extracted from the GP's system, so minimal keying in of information is required
  • System supports the way GP practices work
  • Quality of referral information will be improved i.e. more legible and complete
  • System integrates with existing GP systems
  • Improves patient safety and quality of care

Future benefits

  • System integration with hospital Patient Administration (PAS) systems to allow electronic workflow to the consultant and the prioritisation of referral letters
  • Discharge information sent to the GP, including essential clinical information held on other care systems, for integration with the patient record



Last updated: 07 January 2014
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Learn how the Gateway combines with the Welsh Clinical Portal via Hospital Workflows