Referral costs cut by NICE urinary symptom advice

GPs who follow a NICE guideline on lower urinary tract symptoms reduce referral costs, a survey suggests.

X-ray showing a healthy lower urinary tract (Photograph: SPL)
X-ray showing a healthy lower urinary tract (Photograph: SPL)

Eight in 10 GPs who followed NICE guidance reported a reduction in the cost of referral to secondary care.

The poll of 201 GPs found just 46% followed the guidance and a quarter of those who did not had high referral costs.

Bristol GPSI in urology Dr Jon Rees, who helped develop the guideline, said it 'aims to reassure GPs that the majority of men with lower urinary tract symptoms can be safely assessed and treated in the community and without the need for expensive hospital referrals'.

He added the results showed the importance of improving uptake of the guideline when NHS resources are stretched. The poll, conducted by GSK, suggested GPs familiar with the guidance were more confident with diagnostic tests, such as digital rectal examination, and had more confidence in knowing when to refer to secondary care.

Treating benign prostatic hyperplasia, a common cause of lower urinary tract symptoms, costs the NHS more than £180 million a year - 60% of which is spent in secondary care.

Emma Malcolm, chief executive at the charity Prostate Action, said: 'The survey results show there is clearly a need for more training to be given around the NICE lower urinary tract symptoms guideline.'

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