GP magazine’s story that 91% of PCTs are imposing thresholds or limits on ‘non-urgent’ or ‘low clinical value treatments’ such as hip, knee and cataract operations, received widespread media coverage yesterday.
Speaking to Radio 5 Live, Mr Burns stepped up the promise he made to GP to ‘take action’ against PCTs in response to the findings.
He told BBC presenter Shelagh Fogarty: ‘If it is proven that it is going on, and it is contrary to the guidance, the secretary of state has the powers with regard to the organisation of PCTs to both remove non-executives from the PCTs if they are not prepared to change the practices and to remove the chair.'
Mr Burns said that when clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) replaced PCTs, the regulator Monitor would have a key role in safeguarding patients’ interests.
‘The reforms have given Monitor wide-ranging powers to protect patients’ interests without reference to ministers including directing NHS organisations ultimately, if necessary, bringing court action and sacking CCG board chairs if they do not follow the guidance.'
A DH spokeswoman later clarified that it would be the NHS Commissioning Board, rather than Monitor, that would have the power to sack CCG accounting officers.
Mr Burns also said: 'I think everyone would agree that it is unacceptable to have blanket bans on treatment and for clinical judgement not to be the driving force.’
GP magazine’s deputy news editor Tom Moberly was also interviewed on the Radio 5 Live Shelagh Fogarty show and on Sky News With Kay Burley.
GP’s investigation was also covered by the BBC, where it led television news bulletins, as well as: Guardian, Mail, Mirror, Telegraph, Express, Huffington Post, Evening Standard, Belfast Telegraph and Birmingham Mail.
- Editor's blog: Should I just go away and get fatter?