DoH to increase pressure on GP referral rates

The DoH has urged PCTs to offer incentives for GPs to cut referrals, as the NHS funding squeeze takes hold.

DoH director of system management Bob Ricketts told a King's Fund debate that PCTs should 'monitor GP referral rates and incentivise reductions where they are overly high'.

This contradicts GPC advice that practices should avoid deals with PCTs for hitting targets.

GP referrals to secondary care rose 6.4 per cent in 2009, DoH data show, despite the use of referral management schemes.

Candace Imison, King's Fund deputy director of policy said cutting referrals to hit targets was dangerous for patients.

'The use of norms and averages (when monitoring referral rates) needs to be treated with extreme caution,' she said.

'There are many reasons why one GP may refer a patient while another chooses to manage them.'

But PCT directors at the event urged managers and clinicians to agree local enhanced services (LESs) to compare GPs' referral patterns.

Denis Gizzi, director of system reform at NHS Oldham, was 'surprised' the GMS contract did not incentivise 'capacity management'.

He proposed LESs to cut unnecessary lab tests, medication, diagnostics and admissions. 'We have to apply some technical standards (to GP referral) and incentivise practices to stay within these slots,' he said.

Conor Burke, managing director of NHS Redbridge, said the PCT benchmarked individual GPs to make them look at their performance.

But Ms Imison said GPs faced increasing pressure. 'GPs are trying to do a complicated process in a very short space of time, especially if they are working where there is an increasingly complex set of services out of hospital.'

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said benchmarking individual GPs was 'one of the most inappropriate things you could do'. He said: 'In principle analysing referrals is good for patients, but not as a cost-cutting exercise.'

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

GPs place first orders from government flu jab reserve as £12m support fund rolled out

GPs place first orders from government flu jab reserve as £12m support fund rolled out

GP practices can start ordering flu vaccine from an 8m-dose government stockpile...

Quarter of government's 8m-dose flu stockpile is vaccine granted temporary approval

Quarter of government's 8m-dose flu stockpile is vaccine granted temporary approval

A vaccine yet to be licensed in the UK accounts for more than a quarter of the 8m...

GPs report drop in older patients coming forward with cancer symptoms

GPs report drop in older patients coming forward with cancer symptoms

More than half of GPs say numbers of older patients coming forward with cancer symptoms...

Failure to involve GPs in COVID-19 test and trace 'a disaster and a national shame'

Failure to involve GPs in COVID-19 test and trace 'a disaster and a national shame'

GPs and primary care teams should have played a key role in the UK’s efforts to test,...

RCGP chair 'livid' over attacks on general practice from 'armchair critics'

RCGP chair 'livid' over attacks on general practice from 'armchair critics'

General practice has risen 'heroically' to unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19...

Remote GP consultations a 'lifeline for the NHS' during pandemic, says Hancock

Remote GP consultations a 'lifeline for the NHS' during pandemic, says Hancock

The rapid switch to remote GP consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic provided...