Electronic referrals to cut delays
A new system that allows GPs to make electronic requests for hospital appointments is to be rolled out across Northern Ireland over the next two years.
It is hoped the new system, where doctors use a computer system to refer patients to a consultant, will mean fewer delays.
Currently, when a GP refers a patient to a consultant they make the request in writing.
Health Minister Michael McGimpsey yesterday said that the electronic referral system will be introduced in all GP surgeries by 2012.
A pilot scheme will begin in January 2011 involving Southern Trust GP practices and will then be rolled out to all 356 GP surgeries in Northern Ireland.