GPs more likely to refer to private sector due to budget pressures

More than half of GPs are now more likely to refer patients to the private sector due to pressures on NHS budgets and capacity, a survey reveals.

The poll of 1,000 GPs, sponsored by the General Healthcare Group (GHG), showed that around 53% of GPs are now more likely to channel patients to the private sector for 'low priority' operations, such as those for varicose veins.

The remaining 43% of GPs said that despite treatment deprioritisation, there would be no change in their private referral patterns and only 4% said they were less likely to refer to providers outside the NHS.

GHG chief executive Adrian Fawcett said financial pressures in the NHS will result in longer waits for treatment.

‘The combination of increasing demand and an overstretched NHS budget means further treatment deprioritisation is inevitable and waiting lists look set to rise significantly, resulting in more people opting to seek care from private providers.

‘As GPs take responsibility for commissioning, they will be very aware that they have to make the most of their budgets for the benefit of all patients. It is not surprising therefore that we will see GPs increasingly referring patients to the private sector if patients want access to timelier treatment.’

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