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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Evaluation of the referral management systems (RMS) used by GP practices in Northumberland: a qualitative study

Dew, Rosie and Wilkes, Scott (2019) Evaluation of the referral management systems (RMS) used by GP practices in Northumberland: a qualitative study. BMJ OPEN, 9 (7). ISSN 2044-6055

Item Type: Article


Objective Exploring the views of stakeholders to the referral management systems (RMS) used by GP practices in Northumberland, UK to evaluate its perceived effectiveness.

This was an in-depth qualitative semi-structured interview study. Participants and setting 32 participants (GPs, hospital consultants, referral support, hospital managers, Clinical Commissioning Group manager) in the North East of England, UK.

Interviews using a grounded theory approach and thematic analysis.

The main benefit of RMS mentioned by participants was that it allowed for unnecessary referrals to be vetted by consultants, and helps ensure patients are sent to the correct clinic. Generally, the consultants in our study felt that RMS did not significantly help them reject referrals. Some GPs experienced that RMS undermined GP autonomy and did not help when they had exhausted their abilities to manage a patient in primary care, and it was suggested that in some cases RMS may delay rather than prevent a referral. The main perceived disadvantage of RMS was the additional workload for GPs and consultants, and RMS was felt to be a barrier to commutation between GPs and consultants. Frustration with the system design and lack of knowledge of its cost effectiveness were articulated.

Although RMS was reported to reduce some unnecessary referrals, the effect of referral delay and rejection is unknown. Although there were some positive attributes described, RMS was mostly received negatively by the stakeholders.

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More Information

Depositing User: Scott Wilkes


Item ID: 10978
Identification Number: bmjopen-2018-028436
ISSN: 2044-6055
Official URL:

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Scott Wilkes: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2019 10:52
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2020 11:17


Author: Scott Wilkes ORCID iD
Author: Rosie Dew

University Divisions

Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing


Sciences > Health Sciences

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