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GP referrals on the rise again

Referrals made by GPs increased by 4.5% year-on-year in April and May, and by 2% when adjusted to allow for the number of working days.

And the number of GP referrals actually seen in the two months from 1 April rose by 3.5%, and 1.1% when adjusted for working days, an NHS statistical notice has revealed.

The figures come as NHS England board papers revealed there was a 3.3% increase in the number of GP referrals made in the whole of 2012/13, despite a decrease of 0.5% in 2011/12. This compares with an overall increase in activity of 1.8%, NHS England’s integrated performance report showed.

The paper said: ‘The NHS continues to treat more patients - activity in 2012/13 was 1.8% higher than in 2011/12. However, CCGs are planning that less patients will be treated in 2013/14, for both elective and non-elective activity.’

Dr Chand Nagpaul, GPC negotiator, said: ‘There are an increasing number of requests for re-referrals which are maybe adding to the statistic. We also know we have an increasingly elderly population and morbidity is increasing so it is not entirely surprising there are small increases in numbers of referrals.’

‘We also know that GPs are managing a far greater number of cases in their own practices. The figures belie the degree to which these referral rates would be much higher if it was not for the fact GPs are managing so much more in the community.’

Readers' comments (4)

  • so not to refer patients and get complaints/sued/poor feedback/poor access scores / poor patient feedback for your revalidation and no support if something goes wrong or patients are told by the consultants they should have been referred earlier, or refer patients appropriatley and sleep well at night and get excellent feedback and make life much easier? its not difficult really.

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  • save patient and save your skin . ccg/gmc will not be there to help when you do not refer and some thing goes wrong. they will come up with some wonderful phrases like in "in this particular case". no one can touch you if in your opinion you referred patient appropriately.

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  • New Nice guidance : Refer all suspected dementia = more referrals, Closer management of people with Rheumatoid arthritis = more referrals, DEXA scan all suspected of osteoporosis = more referrals, FRAX score lots of people = more referrals. My referrals are going to go up without any effect of older population, fragmentation of secondary care services, private services not following up patients, too early discharges from hospital, or discharges from clinic blamed on patient DNA's but demonstrably caused by inept appointment systems. I suggest that for every guideline we get that will increase the referral rate, we will be given an "expected increase of referrals". That might allow us to compare like with like.

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  • Increase referral rates are inevitable for several reasons
    1/ patient expectation
    2/reassuring behaviour to prevent (3)
    3/ increase in claims
    4/ increase life expectancy
    5/ multiple co morbidities

    All the above play a role in understanding behaviour from both patients and doctors .
    Our role as clinicians is not to sort out NHS finance but to do what is right for patients , therefore referring and investigating is what we should be doing and I don't need a manager who hardly knows the difference between a swab and a test tube to tell me otherwise

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