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Appointment booking

What is NHS e-Referral Service?

If you have been referred by your GP for an appointment with a healthcare provider, you may be able to book your appointment with NHS e-Referral Service, which replaced Choose and Book in June 2015. Most services are available via NHS e-Referral Service. You can choose the date and time of your appointment and your GP may be able to book your appointment there and then.

However, you have the right to think about your choices, compare different options and book your appointment at a later stage. If so, you’ll be given an appointment request letter, which includes your unique booking reference number, NHS Number and a list of hospitals or clinics to choose from. In addition you'll be given a password, which allows you to book your appointment via NHS e-Referral Service either over the phone using The Appointments Line 0345 6088888 or log in to NHS e-Referral Service online.

NHS e-Referral Service will also give you the ability to:


  • plan and manage your appointments around any existing appointments, if you are currently undergoing treatment
  • fit your treatment in with your other commitments, at home and at work
  • choose appointments that fit with your carer's schedule
  • check the status of your referral and change or cancel your appointments easily, either over the phone or online

Speak to your GP about your choices and read the section about choosing a hospital for more advice.

More than 90% of healthcare providers allow you to book your appointment through NHS e-Referral Service online or via The Appointments Line. Where this is not possible, this will be indicated on your Appointment Request letter by a picture of a phone next to the relevant provider. You or your GP will then have to book directly with the hospital or service using the phone number indicated on the letter. 

More information about how to use NHS e-Referral Service can be found in the FAQ section. If you can’t find the answer to your particular question in the FAQ section, or you want to raise any concerns, you can contact NHS e-Referral Service:

  • via The Appointments Line (TAL) Customer Services line on 01908 774 663 (Monday to Friday 9am-5pm, excluding bank holidays).
  • via email:

I'm not good with the internet – where can I get help?

There are a number of different services for people who need internet training such as UK online centres. Others are provided by local authorities, colleges and charities. The best place to start would be your local library. On this site we created simple tips and instructions that can help you to become a more confident internet user, including how to keep yourself and others safe online.


The 38 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Wastedenvelope said on 17 September 2015

This is the second letter telling me I haven't booked my appointment. Not bad considering I received a text today with my appointment time. No wonder the NHS is costing so much. Maybe the top people should get a grip and start sorting this sort of thing out.

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geralddavies22 said on 08 September 2015

I am trying to find a Consultant specialising in Sialendoscopy in Dorset, in particular in Bournemouth, Poole or Wimborne. I have asked Dorset CGC but they have not replied. I have tried Dorset Healthwatch but they have no information. A friend of mine who also had problems with a stone in the saliva gland and swollen neck gland had to go to London for this treatment. Surely this is not necessary, Gerald Davies

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badman1952 said on 18 August 2015

The hospital does not print on letters the ref No, which is required to log into the system, on all letters. The ref No on letters is the individuals patient No not the log in ref No, it is very confusing.

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Spirit60 said on 16 August 2015

I am wondering why the NHS has a back to front services.Yet claims to trying to save money and resources,to a system that doesn't do that.
This is the second time I have had to use a system that is backward.Recently I have had to wait for appointment to see Cardiologist (2 months!),to travel from the South of Manchester to the North.To be informed I will need a heart scan to assess my condition,which will be another journey from South to the North.As it is the Cardiologist that can assess and inform me.
In the time period waiting I could have had heart scan used my time,appointment time better and NHS resources.
Yet again this backward way of doing things no doubt in an effort to save money,does not give the specialist required information to inform and assess patient.I have to return twice instead of once!.
In the meantime my life has been on hold and turned upside.With long awaited anticipated questions with no answers.Fuming and upset is an under statement.

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sc17 said on 14 August 2015

Having been given 'appointment request' details by my GP I logged onto and booked my hospital appointment - or so I thought! The site was very easy and I waited the quoted 2 weeks for a confirmation letter. When no letter arrived I went back into the website where it gave me the option to book an appointment (but not to change or cancel an existing one) - 2 'something wrong' alerts! I phoned, explained and was given a date (another 3 week wait on top of the original 10).
Being reasonably computer literate, I find that the explanation that 'I couldn't have clicked on Submit' a bid odd. If I'm the only one to have failed, then fair enough but if others have a problem then the system, whilst good, is obviously not good enough (needs to be idiot proof).Is the system monitored for 'failure to complete booking'? No reply required but please note comments.

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Shelley1962 said on 10 August 2015

Received my letter over 2 weeks ago with details of how to book an appointment. Since then I have logged on every day but there are no appointments available. When I phone I get told there is a long queue and that I should book online to save time. When I do get through on the phone there are no appointments there either. I have now been told the hospital will send me an appointment when they can. What is the point of this service?

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Ebbv said on 04 August 2015

Bit of a useless system,won't let me connect keep getting threat message and sent back to previous page. GP couldn't book appointment on system neither could the lady I spoke to to try and book over phone

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lawers said on 03 August 2015

I've just received a second "This is a reminder to book your hospital or clinic appointment" letter. The first one I took to my GP who told me to ingnore it. Am I supposed to ignore this second letter as well?

Steve Lawer

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quoasis said on 03 August 2015

Tried to book an appointment only to get;

There are currently no appointments available.

Fantastic - let's hope it's not serious...

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AlvyLad said on 23 July 2015

Joke in a form of "help" page. I have pending several appointments, none letter with passwords, what do I do with this help page, letter for booking of an appointment and even telephone number given? Useless!
Will miss booking appointment, due to your system copying kids game support system, when issues about health - none human to contact.?../.

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MaryW said on 22 July 2015

E-referral system extremely easy to use. Booked an appointment very quickly. Recommended.

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Pericles said on 20 July 2015

I couldn't get through on the phone to change an appointment so tried online - with some trepidation, given the comments. However I found it very easy to log in, and got a new date within a couple of minutes. I thought I'd chare a positive experience for once - however registering to leave comments is another story! I thought I might leave a comment on the booking system, but you can't. I had to go back to Choose & Book home page and go through a clunky registration process... more joined up please!

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arashdeep said on 18 July 2015

one of worst site, which do not any booking, let you log in but not let you book appointment. Never choice or go on it again.
Its suppose to help, but not helping.

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marlene2210 said on 16 July 2015

I have beein trying for a week to book an appointment through the website to no avail. Have now contacted by telephone and book a place. Only to be told that if I do not get a letter by as certian date I need to inform my G.P.

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Bigjohnp said on 13 July 2015

I am trying to book an e appointment but my tablet is coming up and telling me that the site is unsafe.

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MsHarris said on 08 July 2015

When I received the letter informing me that I could now book and choose my own appointment and hospital, I felt a little sceptical. Spot on!
Only 2 of the 6 clinics offered came up with an appointment date.
That date, one day, is 2 months hence. The same day for both clinics. And I first saw my GP a month ago.
It also only offers one date, the same for both clinics. This date, predictably, is a date which isn't ok.

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Lashram62 said on 07 July 2015

Very difficult site to follow I only want to make an appointment

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Dex2015 said on 02 July 2015

02/07/15, Blackpool Victoria Hospital (Endoscopy Department): Gastroscopy & Colonoscopy:
A big thank you to everyone. I had both procedures with sedative, without any problems at all. No pain and awake throughout. Excellent experience, could not have gone better, cared for by professional and friendly people.
Many thanks.

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piggingjog said on 01 July 2015

I have just had my first meeting with the Referral System. Oh dear!
I am not sure where to start, but let me start with my receiving a Reminder that I had not booked my appointment, and should do so using the referral system and my code and password as on my Appointment Request. I had not received such a request. I rang your number which said I should have a request and they could do nothing without it. So off to the GP who initially denied it was their job to provide a password. Eventually after another visit, I obtained the password. I then logged in enthusiastically, and was presented with a screen showing the hospital and 16 pages of appointment times which I could choose from. Unfortunately all 16 pages were for July 12th 2015, and times ranging from 01:10 am to 03:55 a.m.!! I couldn't believe this and was back on the phone again. Nor could I believe the explanation that these were ghost times and this was the system's way of telling me the hospital would book the appointment and I didn't need to! What?? Why not put a message up to that effect? Today I have received another reminder that I had still not booked the appointment. A call to you to a different operator confirmed I should ignore these and await the hospital's own booking. She also mentioned someone had turned up at 2:00 a.m. one time!
I worked on Computer systems for 40 years and have never met such an awful system. Wasting my time, wasting money on reminders, and totally confusing.

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Eagle girl said on 29 June 2015

Have just used the e booking system and have found it very easy to use, it took less time to book my appointment than to create the account to leave this feedback.

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dwebb said on 22 June 2015

Just wasted 50 minutes on choose and book site, trying to no avail, to book an appointment. Kept getting an error message at the last moment. No one would answer the phone so that is wasted money on top of wasted time.
My local surgery was more helpful and informed me that the system has been down since last week, due to a flawed upgrade.
Not a good enough excuse. If it is down why is there no information to that effect prominently displayed on the web sit, or why is there no information when you try to ring them.
I would like to charge you at my hourly rate for the time you have wasted.
Dissatisfied tax payer.

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jnev785 said on 18 June 2015

Trying to use the 'Choose & Book" system has been a nightmare. They pass the buck to the hospital, hospital pass it to GP's surgery, GP's surgery passes it back to "choose and book". Nobody wants to take responsibility or be pro-active.
Referral letter received 29 May 2015 and despite various chase-ups as of today, 18 June, still unable to book a simple appointment. Common responses were "we can't book it we'll refer it to hospital", "system is down" and "you'll need to call hospital". Meanwhile hospital say they haven't had referral, so I should call GP surgery and ask them to use "Medway". GP's never heard of Medway!
Perhaps if the NHS bought some desk diaries the collapse of an unreliable I.T. system would not cause people to endure prolonged suffering longer than necessary.

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lesleyW said on 16 June 2015

I'm trying to select a consultant. Choose & Book password/ref number form and screens doesn't seem to offer the consultant, only the hospital. I've read all the help screens - there seems to be an implication that if you want to select the consultant (I understand its the consultants' team, any member of - not a named person) then that has to be done by the GP, that is - having been sent a letter from the GP which says using Choose and Book is timeconsuming for the GP so please do it yourself, we will now have to return to the GP and get him/her to actually select the consultant on a screen that only they have access to? Is this correct? To select the consultant you have to have the GP do it? (grateful for a reply - and could the help screens not make this plainer? they say selecting the consultant is a right, then don't say, in so many words, how to do it!).

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rebecca99 said on 15 June 2015

I have tried multiple times to change my appointment and all it comes up with after minutes of waiting for it to load is that there was an error and is unable to complete my booking. All it seems to do right is log me out.

Please fix.

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lesleyW said on 15 June 2015

We got the choose and book letter/password on 11 May and made the booking for 2 June. The letter indicated an appointment with a totally unsuitable consultant at the chosen hospital (heart/liver consultant as opposed to a heart rehab consultant). I rechecked that we should be able to select the consultant (yes, NHS Choices says so) and then went back onto choose and book, cancelled the 2 June appointment and, not finding any way of selecting a different consultant, left a message in the "comments" box. I wasn't very confident that this had all gone through so I then telephoned choose and book who the cancellation (definitely) and then fobbed me off with - well, you got the message that the hospital should reply by 29 May, wait and see what you get from them. The answer to that was - nothing. I phoned choose and book today and their computer is down. I phoned the hospital who said the appointment hadn't been cancelled (!!) and there was no message anywhere on the system and I had no alternative but to return to to my GP, questioning failed to elicit why I should return to the GP. since I have a C&B password. I will try again with choose and book tomorrow morning.
From - an unhappy "customer".

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Dorsetlad said on 14 June 2015

What a glorious waste of time and what a poor first interface with the NHS. The Internet C&B did not allow me to C&B not do the telephone C&B. I wrote to the Minister for Health but he passed the buck saying not his problem. If he is getting paid to be Minister for health then surely is HIS problem. Mr Cameron, thanked me for my letter!! Straight in the bin. C&B tell me that the system is to be replaced by a new system using the best bits of the old, What best bits? It doesn't work!
I end were I came in. What a poor first interface with the NHS

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MargaretConley said on 06 June 2015

Booking referral.

I have been unable to book an appointment after trying for several days
I am following referral hospital (given 2 only) and every time I attempt to book I am offered no dates on either of the offered Hospitals.
After a week trying to book with given reference number
Only resort left is to go back to the ref feral local doctor.

After over three weeks from seeing my doctor I am back to square 1.

This seams a very odd system to get medical help.

Please advise.

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Wallett said on 04 June 2015

Yet another failure!

I was told by my GP to collect a form from the surgery and would then be able to go online where I would be able to choose a hospital and book an appointment to suit.

Having got the form home Section 2 was only highlighted for a 'phone appointment and only one hospital listed, so no choice there! However, I decided to look online, only to be greeted with 'choose and book' unavailable.

Makes a mockery of the choose and book system.

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Annette Punter said on 20 May 2015

All I have been trying to do is book an appointment via Internet
Rubbish! I therefore will waste more time by telephoning which I should have done in the first place!

Annette Punter

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Maggie E said on 16 May 2015

Somebody needs to sort this on line appt system! I had a telephone call from ??? The appointments line telling my appt had been moved forward from July 8th to April 29th.

This morning May 16th, I recieved a letter from The Appointments line, reminding me to rebook my appt!! Two weeks after I already attended, what is going on? Is there no communication

The left half need to know what the right half is doing....what a waste of time and resources. No wonder the NHS is going to the dogs. Sort it out.

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lesleyW said on 15 May 2015

Choose and Book. My GP practice told me that they had purchased a computer system that didn't interface with C&B. I pointed out that NHS Choices said it was a legal right to choose your own hospital. They said it was a lot of paperwork, but went ahead and did it - it was an enormous amount of paperwork. The second time (different problem) after visiting GP and getting a referral from a 'learner' doctor, I phoned to find out by when I should expect paperwork, to find that a secretary was "trying to access the C&B as we speak". Then the C&B paperwork turned up, complete with password. I'm very pleased that NHS Choices states its a legal right - otherwise I would have been put off by their difficulties.

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Julie AK said on 11 May 2015

The choose and book service can only offer choice if all comparable data and information is available to the patient. How can I make a choice between a rheumatology clinic and a foot and ankle clinic if I am not sure what my condition is nor if there is no information on the services provided at each? Also, why give hospital choices, in my case 5 of them, when only 2 are able to offer appointments?!
Another issue is keep your password safe! The letter I received from the hospital with the appointment details does not have either your booking reference on it nor does it have your password, nor does it say you need to refer to the original form. You need to refer to the initial bit of paper, the appointment request form, to change your appointment. Another sticking point is when you do change appointments, they refer you to an appointment at whoever is available regardless of the clinical service you need! I needed to change an appointment for paediatric rheumatology, the appointment line had the details, yet was going to give me an appointment for a physiotherapist! When I pointed out that wasn't the service required as it was a different clinic, I got a snotty retort that I didn't specify the consultant..I didn't have to, the details of the original appointment were on screen in front of them! Tip #4 always refer to the clinic you want, not the one they wish to send you to. Rude, lazy and incompetent..but this is the reality of the NHS business model.

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amg888 said on 02 May 2015

Appointments for the NHS service to which I have been referred can't be booked via this Choose and Book system (I was told that at the time). When I made the appointment direct with the clinic I was told "not to worry if I received a letter from Choose and Book asking me to make the appointment....and just to ignore it' . I did indeed receive such a letter and I did indeed ignore it (I have since been to the clinic), but today I've had another letter from The Appointments Line reminding me to make the appointment. So Choose and Book are reminding me to make an appointment , for which I can't actually use their system....and which I have already made and attended anyway. Is this wasteful? I think it might be!! OK it might only be the cost of holding a bit of date and sending out 2 letters in the post - but every little helps!I've written to The Appointments Line to ask them for an explanation.

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JapHarNav said on 27 April 2015

What a total waste of time this Booking service is ,
I almost tried every single browser i.e google Chrome , Mozilla firefox and internet explorer but this service does not support any of them.
The link never opens.
I ended up having to call on the helpline number to get the appointment booked.

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zia14 said on 26 April 2015

Choose and Book is not working as I was given no information about it, and sent a print out from the surgery some days after my GP appointment. While I was at the surgery I was asked which of just 2 hospitals I wished to go to. Neither would have been a choice I would make.

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NYC01 said on 14 April 2015

I have found the choose and book system to be a complete waste of time. I initially tried to book on the phone only to be told no appointments had been released to the Appointments Centre by the hospital my GP had referred me to. They said they would send my details to the hospital. After waiting and hearing nothing I contacted the hospital direct and was told again no appointments had been released. Eventually I received an appointment through the post only to receive a cancellation letter for the said appointment the next day. I rang the appointments line again to be told I am on a waiting list, how long they didn't know and I would be contacted in due course. I returned to my GP who booked me an appointment in a different hospital whilst I was in the surgey which has now been cancelled, this time after 2 weeks. Upon ringing the appointment line again I was told the appointment "was meant for someone else" and had been cancelled. I am now on their waiting list wondering how the appointment was "meant for someone else" if it was there for my GP to book.

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jonnyg said on 10 April 2015

This website is very hard to use why is this so the dvla website you put your ref number in and hey presto your where you need to be unlike this site nightmare going on phone now.

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Page last reviewed: 15/06/2015

Next review due: 15/06/2017

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NHS e-Referral Service reports and guidance for NHS/IS Staff can be found on the HSCIC website

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