NHS must ration at a national level

Decisions about whether the NHS pays for high-cost drugs and treatments should be made at a national level, not by GP consortia, GP leaders have warned.

Presenting a motion passed at the 2011 LMCs conference, Dr Raj Menon from Leeds LMC said that responsibility for making such decisions would ‘put pressure on consortia’ who may not have the personnel to deal with it.

Dr Menon warned that asking consortia to make individual decisions on available treatments could lead to patients registering for certain practices to have access to more expensive treatments.

‘If this is linked to the removal of practice boundaries it would lead to health tourism,’ Dr Menon said.

LMC members also warned that simultaneous demands on doctors to ‘screen and treat more patients yet refer less’ were incompatible. Doctors also struggled to cope because they were ‘given quality of care guidelines yet are told to reduce the cost of drugs they prescribe when following them’, a motion backed by the conference said.

Dr Nev Bradley, from Wirral LMC called for the government to ‘cut out the trivia’ and ‘cut out the policing’. ‘Give us the freedom to treat our patients,’ Dr Bradley said.

Dr Jeremy Colt, from Hertfordshire, also speaking in favour of the motion, said that pressure to refer less but screen more, left him feeling ‘like we’re trapped between a rock and a hard place’.

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