GPs defy BMA guidance over incentive schemes to cut referrals
By Lilian Anekwe
GPs are defying GPC guidance en masse and renewing their participation in controversial referral incentive schemes, Pulse has learned.
The GPC has urged GPs not to take part in any scheme containing ‘an incentive, target-based element', warning that GPs risk breaching GMC rules of conduct.
But figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that 141 of the 148 practices in Hampshire have signed up to both components of a target-based of the scheme for 2009/10.
The Hampshire scheme offers practices a payment of £2,400 for an average-sized practices for a three month clinical review of referrals, and a further £4,000 for meeting targets for restricting growth in referrals.
Meanwhile, 80 of the 82 practices in Oxfordshire are signed up to a similar scheme and a spokesperson for NHS Oxfordshire said none of the practices had withdrawn following the publication of GPC guidance.
The Oxfordshire scheme attracted a wave of negative publicity for offering a total of £1.2m in incentives, but succeeded in droving referrals down by more than a quarter in three months and Pulse revealed last month the scheme was set to be renewed.
Dr Stephen Richards, a GP in Woodcote, Oxfordshire, said: ‘We are expecting a positive engagement from the vast majority of practices.'