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For non-doctors to take on our referrals is a breach of trust

I believe that non-doctors seeing GP referrals is totally unacceptable, and bordering on criminal activity, unless the GP has specifically referred to a non-doctor, such as a physiotherapist, and the patient is aware the person who will be seeing them is not medically qualified.

To expect patients to recognise the qualifications of the person they are seeing from their uniform or name badge is absurd ('Non-doctors see up to half of GP referrals', pulsetoday.co.uk/news).

There are huge implications regarding the issue of patient consent, especially if the non-doctor is referred to as a 'consultant'. I can see circumstances arising where these non-doctors are taken

to court charged with impersonating a doctor.

Surely the NHS Charter states that the patient has a right to be aware of whom they are seeing before a consultation takes place?

From Dr John Oakley, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands

This is just one more example of the arrogant and complacent way trust managers are treating patients and colleagues.

Of course, it probably won't be the managers who get caught - but the unfortunate so-called 'specialist' instead.

It must be assumed that patients will think they are seeing a doctor under these circumstances. Therefore in the absence of a clear explanation at the beginning of the consultation, a charge of 'holding oneself out to be a registered medical practitioner' would seem to be hard to avoid.

It may be that the manager could be charged as an accessory and I sincerely hope they would be, as they are far more guilty than the unfortunate person facing the primary charge.

Who is going to make the first reference to the GMC? Unless this is done I suspect the problem will increase.

From Dr Michael Blackmore, retired GP, Cyprus

The extent to which non-doctors are now seeing GP referrals concerns me. From my first-hand experience in dealing with nurse specialists, I am concerned at the rate of expansion of these roles and it scares me.

Patients should be advised by their GPs to ask the specialist they have been sent to if they are a qualified medic. Nurses aren't yet calling themselves 'medics', so they would then receive accurate information as to the status of the individual without straining to read their badge.

A problem arises with phone consultations if a nurse refers to themselves as a respiratory or DVT specialist, but usually asking the right questions can identify whether you are speaking to a medic or not.

From Dr Barbara Todd, neuroscientist, Nottingham

Specialists taking referrals

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