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GPs praised as referrals drop

NHS chief executive Nigel Crisp has praised GPs after his six-monthly report showed a dramatic fall in the growth of outpatient referrals.

The rise in the growth of GP referrals to hospitals slowed from an annual average of 1.4 per cent over the last three years to 0.2 per cent between April and September. Mr Crisp said the growth in the number of GPs with a special interest had contributed to the fall.

The report showed procedures undertaken in primary care increased by 1.4 per cent in the same period. 'That's the really big change that's happening in the NHS at the moment,' he said.

Mr Crisp highlighted a CHD clinic run by Dr Jim Bates (pictured) and two GP colleagues as 'one of the best examples' of the NHS offering a more convenient service to patients.

The three GPs do a session a week at the clinic at the Birkenhead Heart Centre in the Wirral, seeing four patients on average each time. Death rates in the area from heart disease are twice the national average.

Dr Bates said hospital services were 'pushed to the limit'. He added: 'The centre is hugely important. We can give patients more time and explanation.'

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