Devon Referral Support Service - user guide for GP practices

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Devon Referral Support Service

Devon Referral Support Service (DRSS) is a Referral Management Centre which supports patients in getting the right advice, care or treatment in a timely manner. DRSS is part of NHS Devon and is based in Plymouth and Torquay.

Referrals are sent from GP practices to DRSS electronically via the NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS). The referrals are processed and patients contact DRSS to discuss their options. If a patient does not contact DRSS, they will be contacted directly by phone and by letter.

More about Devon Referral Support Service

What is the difference between e-Referral Service (e-RS) & DRSS?

DRSS is the local service that processes referrals on behalf of Devon GP practices. The NHS e-Referral service is a national system used by the majority of NHS providers across the country. Any issues relating to e-RS should be reported to NHS Digital on 0300 303 5035.

Who works for DRSS?

The service is primarily delivered by administrative staff, Patient Choice Facilitators (PCFs), and GP Referral Facilitators (GPRFs). GPRFs are available at DRSS most days to support the PCFs, make decisions about referrals which do not comply with NHS Devon policy, and answer queries from primary care.

Do all referrals go through DRSS?

Most referrals in Devon and East Cornwall are processed by DRSS. There are several specialities that have referral criteria or Commissioning Policies that apply to referrals. It is worth reading those guidelines prior to referring a patient. It is possible the referral will be returned if the referral criteria are not met or not detailed within the referral letter.

The following are covered by commissioning polices:

  • Benign skin lesions including warts, lipomas, sebaceous cyst
  • Carpal tunnel, Dupuytren's Contracture and ganglion
  • Low Priority Treatments including cosmetic treatments
  • Procedures of Limited Clinical Effectiveness e.g. tonsillectomy, grommets, circumcision, hallux valgus surgery, varicose veins
  • Pain management referrals
  • Infertility
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Hip and knee referrals

For a full list please see the Formulary and Referral website referral section or call the Helpdesk on 01626 883888

How to...

Attach Referral letter (web-based)

If you find that your referral letter has not attached from within your clinical system (normally notified by Helpdesk or automated email) you can follow the step by step guide to ensure the letter gets attached. DRSS and providers view e-RS on the web based system so its handy to have this available.

How to attach a referral letter - a step by step guide

Add large documents to a referral before submitting

You may occasionally raise a UBRN and when you attach a document it says your file exceeds 5MB. If this happens you will need to print off that document and re-scan it into smaller batches and then attach as separate documents,before you submit the UBRN.

Make a 2WW referral

Please use the appropriate 2WW referral template. You can find these and associated Clinical Referral Guidelines on the Formulary and Website:

Northern locality CRGs | Eastern locality CRGs | Western locality CRGs | South Devon & Torbay locality CRGs

Northern locality forms | Eastern locality forms | Western locality forms | South Devon & Torbay locality forms

How to refer to 2 Week Wait services on e-RS - a step by step guide

Track a referral

e-RS enables practices to track their referrals and identify the status of the UBRN. Ensure you are logged onto e-RS.

How to track a referral on e-RS - a step by step guide

View history/status of a referral

Log onto e-RS 'Web based' click on the referral / UBRN in question, you will get a list of actions one of which being 'View History'. This will give you a breakdown of what has happened with that UBRN.

Check 2WW status

e-RS enables practices to check their Cancer 2WW referrals and identify the status of the UBRN. Practices are recommended to do this on a daily basis. Ensure you are logged onto e-RS.

How to check the status of 2 Week Wait referrals - a step by step guide

View assessment results

When the referral is first reviewed a decision will be made as to whether it meets the referral criteria. If the referral does not meet the criteria, the GPRF (GP Referral Facilitator) will select "Advise Referrer" on e-RS. This will show on e-RS as "Assessment Result".

How to view assessment results - a step by step guide

Complete / rectify an outstanding referral

Incomplete referrals are UBRNs created in the Practice clinical system, that have not gone across to e-RS for some reason. Either the process has not been completed, or the patient's record has not been saved. Incomplete referrals will show on the Referrer Action Required worklist and/or Patient Activity list. If you find an incomplete referral on your worklist you can cancel the UBRN and re-raise.

How to complete outstanding referrals - a step by step guide

Raise an A&G request

To raise an Advice & Guidance (A&G) request is very similar to raising a normal routine referral except you choose 'advice' instead of 'referral' on the 'request type' box. If you are unsure follow this step by step guide.

How to request Advice & Guidance - a step by step guide

Cancel a referral / UBRN

If you need to cancel a UBRN on e-RS you simply log onto the 'Web based' e-RS, click on the UBRN you wish to cancel. It will give you a list of actions, one of which will be 'cancel appointment'.

How to cancel a referral/UBRN

In some circumstances you may not be able to do this, if so please contact DRSS Helpdesk on 01626 883888 who can advise.

Frequently asked questions

Where can I find an up to date proforma or referral form?

The most up to date referral forms and proformas can be found on the Formulary and Referral websites:

Why has my referral been returned?

Referrals may be returned by DRSS to the practice for several reasons. The referral is returned to the practice electronically via e-RS onto your worklist with comments from the GP Referral Facilitator as to why the referral has been returned and, if necessary, what information is needed if the referring GP wishes to pursue the referral.

What is an onward/linked UBRN?

The GP practice will raise an initial UBRN, the majority of these referrals will be triaged and a second 'onward' UBRN will be created, this is so that the correct services can be shortlisted. This can all be viewed on the 'history' of the UBRN/ referral.

Who do I contact about a Mental Health referral query?

Although Mental referrals are raised on e-RS not all are processed by DRSS.

For Eastern, Northern or South Devon & Torbay practices:
  • Contact Single Point of Access (SPOA) on 0300 555 5000
Western and East Cornwall practices:
  • Contact DRSS on 01626 883890

What is PSO (Paper Switch Off)?

Paper switch off is an NHS England Programme which has been live since October 2018. The aim of the programme is that referrals are raised on the NHS e-Referral Service. Any referrals sent direct to the hospital that shouldn't have been will be returned to the practice to be raised on e-Referrals.

There are a very small number of specialties that are not available to book via e-RS. Please see link for up to date list:

Devon Referral Support Service processes

Summary of DRSS process

Eastern locality GP practices: please be aware processes differ slightly in Eastern locality these are currently in development and will be made available on this page soon

Due to COVID19 referrals are being booked into their nearest provider and patients are being sent a letter to call us on 01626 883888 if they want to change provider. This may change in the coming months.

GP practice use NHS e-Referral and book into DRSS service
GP practice attach referral letter on the same day
DRSS undertake referral review (admin or clinician)
If referral letter is found to be incomplete, does not meet referral criteria, Clinical Commissioning Policy or LVP/LPP (low value procedure/low priority procedure) the referral is returned to the practice showing on the e-Referral Referrer Action Required worklist
GP decides whether to resubmit referral with further information or to inform patient that their referral has been returned and closed
If referral is complete, DRSS shortlist appropriate services on e-Referral Service
Patient telephones DRSS
Patient Choice Facilitator offers choice and books appointment, if appropriate, or if no appointments available select 'Defer to Provider' on e-Referral Service and the referral is sent to the patient's chosen provider
If the patient hasn't been in contact, DRSS telephone the patient
If DRSS unable to contact the patient, a reminder letter is sent
A final reminder letter is sent from DRSS to the patient
The referral is closed down
If the patient telephones after 3 months the patient will be asked to contact their GP practice to initiate a new referral

Appendix 2

Devon Referral Support Service returns process


This user guide has been signed off by NHS Devon

Last updated: 16-07-2020


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