Exclusive: PCTs target £1m savings with referral restrictions

PCTs hope to save an average of £1m each by expanding restrictions on referrals for 'non-urgent' procedures, a GPonline.com investigation has revealed.

Dr Nagpaul: ‘The problem with different low-priority thresholds is that they are often drawn up on the basis of local interpretation of evidence’
Dr Nagpaul: ‘The problem with different low-priority thresholds is that they are often drawn up on the basis of local interpretation of evidence’

Among responses from 111 PCTs to a Freedom of Information Act request, 34 provided detailed information about the savings they expect to make through restricting procedures.

On average, PCTs expected to save £1,051,000 through restricting procedures they deemed ‘non-urgent’, of ‘limited clinical value’, ‘low priority’ or ‘cosmetic’.

Earlier this week, GPonline.com revealed that 64% of PCTs have now introduced such policies and that 35% of PCTs have added to their list of procedures for 2011/2.

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul has said the government needed to decide on a consistent set of national standards of ‘low priority’ treatments to help remove postcode lotteries in provision.

‘The problem with different low-priority thresholds is that they are often drawn up on the basis of local interpretation of evidence,’ he said. ‘Ultimately that is not fair to patients.’

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