This document presents a new referral letter format, developed by HIQA in collaboration with the Irish College of General Practitioners, as a national standard. It also contains guidance for GPs on how to complete the new referral form.
Four of the GPIT accredited practice management systems (Complete GP, Health One, Helix Practice Manager and Socrates) can produce the national referral form from the patient's file. This enables GPs to use this new format in paper form instead of their current referral letter.
In March 2010, the ICGP GPIT facilitators began the process of improving the generation of referral letters from GP practice management software. They sought to develop a nationally-accepted dataset which would present the information in a standardised format. The referral form developed by the GPIT facilitators and HIQA simplifies and streamlines the referral process for GPs, while improving the quality and consistency of referral data received by hospitals.
HIQA's Report and Recommendations on Patient Referrals from General Practice to Outpatient and Radiology Services, Including the National Standard for Patient Referral Information, released in June 2011, contains the final version of the collaboration of GPIT and HIQA work.
It is envisaged that referrals will be made electronically in the future, similar to the national cancer referral forms that are currently available. This work will support HSE electronic referral projects currently in development.
When completing the referral form to a palliative care service the following additional specific information is required to ensure it is dealt with most efficiently.
The above guidelines have been developed with the HSE Palliative Care Clinical Programme.