Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/873/21525
NHS cutters pay doctors not to refer sick patients to hospitals
Jackie Grunsell, NHS doctor
General practitioners (GPs) are being paid to reduce referrals to hospital in some areas.
This will cause shock and concern. Patients trust their doctor to always act in their best interests - without gaining financially by denying access to specialist services.
'Clinical commissioning groups' (CCGs) led by clinical professionals took over planning local healthcare under the last government. This work was previously done by administrators, leaving clinicians free to focus on patients. The change was central to Tory and Lib Dem NHS cuts.
We were told CCGs would better advocate for patient care, putting GPs at the heart of decision making. Yet at least nine groups run schemes incentivising GPs to reduce referral rates!
In some cases this includes the aim of reducing two-week-wait fast-track referrals for those with suspected cancer.
GP leaders have called such schemes into question. They are damaging to the doctor-patient relationship of trust.
Our budgets have been cut from every direction. Many GPs may be desperate for any additional funding - simply in order to maintain their service.
However, if patients feel blocked from seeing specialists for financial reasons, they will lose faith in their doctors. It's one of the reasons the General Medical Council, the doctors' regulator, insists we must not receive any "inducement, gift or hospitality".
If NHS resources were adequate to meet patients' needs, these incentives would never have been considered.
Billions are wasted on privatisation schemes. Drug companies aren't challenged for hugely inflated medication prices. GPs spend valuable time re-analysing their referrals to decide whether they were 'appropriate' or not.
The system needs turning on its head. The Socialist Party fights to reverse all NHS cuts and expand both clinical and support staff.
In The Socialist 7 October 2015:
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