NHS chief warns PCTs over rationing

Reports of widespread restrictions on cataract surgery have prompted the NHS medical director to warn PCTs that it is their legal responsibility to provide healthcare.

Professor Bruce Keogh: 'Rationing services on the basis of cost alone is wrong'

Professor Bruce Keogh will write to PCT chief executives and the wider NHS warning that it is 'unacceptable' and 'unethical' to blanket ban treatment, GP understands.

He will remind PCTs it is their legal duty to ensure access to treatment when advised by a clinician.

It comes after a damning study by Imperial College London researchers, which found half of PCTs have policies to restrict cataract surgery. By doing so, almost all of these trusts are failing to follow national guidelines or clinical evidence.

In a statement, Professor Keogh said: 'Rationing services on the basis of cost alone is wrong - it compromises clinical values and patient care.

'We have consistently taken a firm line that imposing blanket bans for any treatment on the basis of cost is unethical and have made it clear it is unacceptable for PCTs to put caps on the number of people who can have certain operations.

'Decisions on treatments, including suitability for surgery, should be made by clinicians taking the needs of each individual into account.'

He added: 'I will be writing to the NHS once again to reiterate their legal responsibilities in making sure patients get the treatment they need.'

On Friday, the president of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, Professor Harminder Dua, told GP there was now clear evidence of rationing 'driven by financial considerations' following the Imperial College London study.

He urged ministers to keep their promise to take action against PCTs that do not follow national guidelines, which has led to thousands of elderly people denied surgery.

In July, former health secretary Andrew Lansley said the DH 'will not allow NHS commissioners to impose blanket bans'.

Yet, earlier this month a GP poll revealed more than a third of GPs say their PCT is still rationing care on the basis of cost alone.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Unwell child in hospital

Free CPD module on MIMS Learning covers invasive group A streptococcus

The learning module enables you to refresh your knowledge of symptoms and signs,...

Health and social care secretary Steve Barclay

Government denies antibiotic shortage despite warnings from GPs and suppliers

The government has insisted there is no shortage of antibiotics despite GPs and pharmacists...

GP waiting room

Strep A drives surge in GP demand on top of record appointments

Some GPs are reporting the highest levels of patient demand they have ever seen as...

Mobile phone

GPs urge caution over plan for NHS health checks to go digital

GP leaders have warned that changes to the NHS health checks programme must be evidence-based...

Debbie Boughtflower

How career coaching can transform the lives of veterans

GPs across England and Wales can refer patients who used to work in the armed forces...

RCGP chair Professor Kamila Hawthorne

RCGP raises 'major concerns' over practice-level appointments data

The RCGP has written to health and social care secretary Steve Barclay warning that...