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Explore and Make use of Nationally Defined Messaging APIs



A brief introduction to getting started with the e-Referral APIs

Application Programming Interface (API)

A key aspect of the NHS e-RS vision is to enable local innovation and adoption of paperless referrals. You can do this in a secure and controlled manner using our API. The APIs are a well-defined interface aiding new software solutions in a simple way.

We want to stimulate and assist your development of applications linked to the NHS e-RS via its API. We describe and provide the usual tasks and support documents you will need here.


The site has five main parts. Each aligns to a phase of development and partner engagement with NHS Digital, as shown below. The Communication Channels let you engage with each phase of the Ecosystem. They are enabling components.

NHS e-RS API Development Journey

A summary of the activities and the support material in each of the phases are as follows:

Phase                 Description
1. Get Started Non-technical and high-level technical documentation to get started with the development, including registration for new partners, a glossary and an FAQ
2. Explore A full API reference (live and alpha) and (ReST) resource definitions, standard models and error messages
3. Develop Business flows related to each main user journey, access to synthetic e-Referral test data
4. Assure NHS Digital validation, integration testing, technical accreditation, and guidance to clinical safety and information governance
5. Deploy Registration, deployment certificates and monitoring


To begin head to the Development Journey page.

The wider perspective

With new models of care emerging and evolving, there is a clear need for more effective information sharing between care settings, organisations and geographies, as well as between professionals and citizens, to optimise patient outcomes and quality of care. This is reliant on the ability of IT systems across health and care to be interoperable with one another, and is key to the delivery of the future vision of care in England. To learn more about the Interoperability efforts at the NHS Digital, visit the NHS Digital Interoperability pages.

A key consideration for any remote access service is the requirement that patient data is safe and protected. There are many rules that govern controls and protection when accessing systems and application remotely. To learn more about the Government Digital Service standards visit the NHS Digital Industry Standards pages.

All content is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0, except where otherwise stated