PCT backs 'cash for no hospital referrals' scheme

A scheme that pays GPs for not referring patients to hospital will help to maintain 'high quality care' for patients at a time when hospitals are struggling with an unprecedented increase in referrals, according to the PCT implementing it.

Oxfordshire PCT has introduced a policy which means that practices can be rewarded for reviewing and reducing referral rates. An average-sized practice can reportedly earn up to £20,000 extra a year.

If practices hit their targets, Oxfordshire PCT would pay out £1.2m but it said this was justified because increasing hospital referrals were costing £6m.

But Oxfordshire PCT has stressed that any patient in Oxfordshire who needs a hospital referral will get one. 

Andrea Young, chief executive of Oxfordshire PCT, said: ‘We are asking GPs to introduce systems to review their practice referrals to help us identify any unusual trends, and to share any learning and areas of best practice in referral management.

‘We recognise that to thoroughly investigate and review referral activity routinely, a significant amount of clinical time and effort is required. Therefore we are offering GPs some extra payment to enable practices to staff and resource this process effectively,’ said Ms Young.

‘Through this mechanism, we hope to bring referral numbers back to more normal levels whilst maintaining high quality care for all patients.’

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

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