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BMA slams inter-consultant referral bans

By Nigel Praities

Patient care is being damaged by the ‘simplistic prohibition' of consultant to consultant referrals in trusts up and down the country, say BMA members.

In a motion supported by delegates, the association's Annual Representatives' Meeting called for national guidelines for direct referrals between consultants ‘to ensure patient care is not compromised.'

Pulse revealed last month that NHS managers were planning to cut hospital costs by toughening up restrictions on consultant-to-consultant referrals.

GPs at the meeting vented their anger at trusts who have imposed blanket bans on referrals between consultants in hospital.

Proposing the motion, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, GPC negotiator and a GP in Stanmore, Middlesex, said the bans resulted in delays in treatment, with patients being referred back to GPs.

‘This is not about gaming. It is about patient care being compromised. The truth is there really are lots of examples happening up and down the country. This is happening day-by-day,' he said.

Dr Alan Brook, a GP in Brighouse, Calderdale, said it was a ‘sad indictment' of the health service that consultants were being prevented from communicating with each other.

‘Under the payment by results system, controlled consultant to consultant referrals cause chaos. Consultants should be able to discuss with colleagues, without another chargeable referral,' he said.

Dr Jonathan Fielden, chair of the BMA consultants' committee, urged delegates at the meeting to support the motion as national guidelines would help clarify the situation.

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