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GMC refuses to issue guidance on referral incentives

By Gareth Iacobucci

The GMC is refusing to issue new guidance on the ethics of GPs taking up financial incentives as part of referral management schemes to reduce hospital admissions.

There have been calls for the GMC to issue fresh guidance on the ethics of such schemes, with the NHS Alliance and some GPs calling for greater clarity.

But the GMC effectively ruled out issuing imminent new guidance, claiming it was the Government's responsibility to provide guidance for trusts and GPs.

Professor Sir Graeme Catto, president of the GMC, said: ‘It's not a huge issue for the GMC at the moment. We've only had five calls from doctors.

‘As circumstances change, we might have to review our position. It would be very helpful if the Department of Health were to issue something.'

Meanwhile, DH sources confirmed that a top level investigation is under way into the cause of the huge upsurge in referrals.

While the Government did not rule out issuing a new set of guidelines for PCTs on referral procedures, it is continuing to insist it is down to PCTs to ensure schemes are ethical.

Effectively the GMC, the Government and PCTs have all been left to call on each other to clear the fog.

GMC - refused to issue new guidance on incentives to GPs to keep referrals down

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