The majority of hospitals across England have stopped receiving paper referrals for patients in need of outpatient appointments, new data shows.
NHS Digital said that 88% of trusts are receiving referrals for first outpatient appointments through the NHS e-Referral Service.
The NHS in England has been challenged to switch to the service by October.
NHS Digital has praised the health service in the north of England - where all acute hospitals now receive outpatient referrals electronically.
It said 47 hospitals and 2,479 GP practices have now switched to the service ahead of the deadline.
Patients at Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust are, on average, getting their appointments eight days faster following the switch over to the NHS e-Referral Service, NHS Digital said.
It added that the service has also reduced the number of people who don't show up for their appointments as well as reduced letters going missing.
Meanwhile, it is has vastly reduced the amount of paper used in the referral process.
From October, trusts will only take electronic referrals from GPs.
Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) PA Wire.