A strategic review of the ICB referral support services function across NCL has found that take-up varied significantly across boroughs and specialties. Some GP practices have used the services actively, while others rarely use the teams for referrals. There is also variation across specialties, with referral support used much more widely for some than others.
As a result, we are working towards a standardised approach and will be supporting GP practices to manage referrals through their own systems. We will be closing down the ICB-led referral support services in a phased approach, with the service not accepting any new referrals after 31 January 2024 and ceasing operations entirely on 31 March 2024.
To make sure the transition to the new arrangements happens smoothly, we are working in partnership with colleagues in general practice, secondary care, and community providers.
We are working with those GP practices who currently use the RSS to support them with a phased move to managing their own referrals. This support will include a new e-referrals microsite hosted on the NCL ICB GP website with tutorials, guides, FAQs, and training materials; webinars; training sessions; and drop-in sessions as well as the comprehensive online guidance available on the NCL ICB GP website.
GPs will still be expected to follow best practice in referrals in line with the guidance and policies on the NCL ICB GP website, including the Evidence-Based Interventions and Clinical Standards (EBICS) policy for patients needing a procedure where certain criteria or a threshold must be met before funding is approved.
The new arrangements will ensure consistent processes are in place across all NCL general practices, contributing to a fair and high-quality services for all patients.