GMC to review referral advice

The GMC is to review its guidance on schemes that pay GPs to cut referral rates.

The NHS Alliance has warned that the schemes could leave practices facing legal action if a patient came to harm after a decision not to refer.

The GMC stopped short of agreeing with these fears, but a spokeswoman confirmed it will review its guidance.

Oxfordshire PCT introduced a scheme two months ago whereby practices can earn up to £20,000 for reviewing and reducing their referral rates.

Dr Paul Roblin, chief executive of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire LMCs said the targets made GPs 'uneasy'.

'GPs will always put the interests of the patient first, but there is a fear it could be construed as something else.'

But he said involving the GMC would be like 'using a sledgehammer to crack a nut'.

He called for incentives to be limited to practices reviewing referral procedures, rather than linked to lower referral rates.

The DoH has backed the schemes but national clinical director for primary care Dr David Colin-Thome has warned SHAs that they must not breach patient safety.

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