Update on dental electronic
referral system procurement (DERS)

15th November 2019

NHS England Wessex and Thames Valley regions are procuring a Dental Electronic Referral System (DERS). The procurement is currently live and the aim to be in a position to award the contract in October 2019. The DERS will then be implemented (which is anticipated to take 3 – 4 months) so the system will go live on 7th February 2020.

How will DERS work?

The referrer will logon to a secure website and fill out an online referral form. It will be possible to import patient details directly from your SoE or R4 practice software. If you use any other software, please inform us now with details. There will be a facility to upload images and documents such as health questionnaires, clinical photographs, patient repeat prescriptions etc. A scanner may be useful for these. In particular, DERS will allow uploading of digital radiographs without loss of quality as happens with paper referrals at present.

DERS will allow easier tracking of the referrals, and will speed up the referral process, and improve communication between the referrer and the treatment provider.
When this goes live ALL referrals for Orthodontics or Oral Surgery will need to be sent electronically.

Click here to view the Wessex Thames Valley Primary Provider Initial Communication Final document

What do I need to do now?

There are a few things that The Wessex Dental Team need GDP’s to do to ensure they are ready for the roll out of the DERS system. This applies both to NHS and Independent Dental Providers.

Firstly Referrals will need to include Digital Radiography images. For any practices that do not have digital radiography this would be ideal for them to invest in this technology for the future. The DERS system will have a solution to send wet images. However there is significant loss of quality in the process. – You may need to post the wet film to the treatment provider, adding to the delay and risk of loss.

Secondly the digital images must be exportable from your system in DICOM format. DICOM files carry the patient detail within the file so it is safer and easier to import to hospital systems. Most (if not all) digital radiography systems are able to do this, so please investigate how your software can do this. If you are struggling please contact your software provider to get advice about this. Sometimes this will need a software add-on for this facility.

Thirdly all dental practices (NHS and independent) will need an nhs.net e-mail account. If you do not have one please set this up. The Wessex Dental Team can provide advice regarding how to set this up – please contact england.wessexdental@nhs.net for more information. You will need your CQC location ID (visible online when you do a Google Search for your practice), and your ODS code for your organisation. This can be searched for here:

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