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Referral Assistance Service

RAS nhs


One of Caring Together’s ambitions is to introduce planned, simplified care pathways that ensure people get the care they need, when they need it.

The new referral assistance service (due to go live from 1st May 2018) will be supported by an existing NHS IT system (e-Referral), specialist triagers, and a booking service.

The service will initially focus on six key specialty areas in order to help improve patient health outcomes by ensuring patients are provided with the appropriate treatment, and are seen by the right clinician at the right time.

The six specialties’ are;

  • Cardiology
  • Gastroenterology
  • General Surgery
  • Ophthalmology
  • Orthopaedics
  • Paediatrics

This list is not exhaustive. Additional specialties may be added to the referral assistance service as and when it is deemed appropriate by the CCG.

What will happen to the referral once sent to a specialist?

Once the referral is received by the Referral Assistance Service it will be reviewed by a specialist. The specialist will complete a clinical assessment to determine which type of assessment or treatment is most appropriate for you based on the information your GP has included in the referral letter. This may be:

  • Recommend that your GP provide a course of treatment which may not yet have been tried. Your GP will be informed of this recommendation and make contact with you.
  • Suggest a service provided by consultants with more specialist knowledge and training
  • Recommend treatment which could be provided within a hospital or community service close to home.


What will happen to the referral once sent to a specialist?

If the specialist suggests that you should be booked into a community or hospital service, a member of staff from the booking team within the Referral Assistance Service will telephone you to discuss the choice of treatment providers available to you and support you in choosing where you would like your appointment to be booked.

They may also be able to answer any other questions you have about the service.

If the booking team are unable to reach you via telephone, they will text you within 24 hours (if your mobile number is on your referral and you have consented to receive text messages) asking you to contact them to arrange your appointment. If you have not contacted the booking team and they have not managed to reach you after a further 24 hours, a letter will be sent to you asking to contact them within 7 days. The letter will also include details on how to access e-Referrals an online booking system ( as an alternative method to telephoning the booking team.


Benefits of the Service

  • Access to specialist triage service
  • Choice of hospital or community clinic
  • Choice of appointment date and time
  • Shorter referral to treatment times
  • Fewer missed appointments
  • Fewer inappropriate referrals
  • Improved efficiencies, time and costs


NHS Digital Paper Switch off Programme

Please be advised that in line with the NHS Digital Paper Switch off Programme, East Cheshire NHS Trust have commenced a ‘soft launch’ of working towards this initiative. This means that any referrals currently being faxed, sent in by paper or emailed for example, will be accepted between 3rd April and 30th April with information sent back to the referring practice on how to send future referrals by e-referral.  From 1st May, a ‘hard launch’ will be implemented where all referrals must be made through the e-referral system.

What does this mean for Practices?

From a practice point of view, any referrals received after 30th April 2018 via fax, paper or email will be rejected by the Data Quality team to the referring practice via email with clear instructions that the referral will only be accepted via e-RS.  2 week cancer referrals (with the exception of breast and haematology) will show as RAS or ‘triage’ from 3rd April 2018.  This is to ensure that the referral goes straight to the appropriate Consultant team for grading and listing. All other services, including breast and haematology, will be directly bookable as currently.  In the event that there is no capacity available on e-Referral, please use the ‘Defer to Provider’ option where the referral will then be managed by the trust.

How does this link in to the CCG Referral Assistance Service Project?

The Referral Assistance Service will consist of an independent triage function within it (consisting mainly of GPs with specialist interest), and a booking team provided by Midlands and Lancashire's Commissioning Support Unit. This is for six speciality areas only (at the moment).

The first specialty to go live with the triage will be Orthopaedics. This will be from 1st May 2018.

General Enquiries

How would I go about cancelling my appointment?

If you need to cancel or rearrange your agreed appointment or if you have any other queries about your appointment please call the booking team on 01772 325100 who will be happy to help you.

Would I be able to speak to someone within the CCG?

NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group is committed to providing high quality and accessible healthcare for the people of Eastern Cheshire. We actively encourage comments from patients, carers and local people on the quality of the services that we commission.

ECCCG Address:

NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (ECCCG)

1st Floor, West Wing

New Alderley Building,

Victoria Road,


SK10 3BL

ECCCG General Enquires:

01625 663477 or