Practices caught in 'referral wars'
More than 60 per cent of GPs are having hospital referrals regularly bounced back to them, Pulse's survey shows.
A bewildering array of reasons are being cited for the
returns, which have left GPs
exasperated and worried for patients' wellbeing.
One GP in three said they had had a referral bounced back because it had not been submitted in accordance with procedure. Almost 30 per cent cited cases where their referral had been deemed unnecessary and they had been asked to manage the patient themselves.
Dr Lesley Taor, a GP in Orpington, Kent, was one of the 26 per cent to get a referral to a named consultant returned.
'It is ludicrous,' she said. 'We can't refer to named consultants, but when referrals reach the wrong person they get bounced back to us, even when the relevant consultant I wanted is in the same building.
'We have had patients with hand problems getting sent to the back chap. One letter I sent to the respiratory department ended up with rheumatology. I get incensed because it is just rationing by another name.'
One GP in five had been told to re-refer because the procedure was cheaper elsewhere.
Dr Claudia Webster-Smith, a GP in Purley, Surrey, said her practice was getting into 'referral wars' with hospitals.
She said: 'Sometimes we have to refer the patient straight back because we just don't have the capacity in our practice.
'But what if something happens to the patient during this referral war? It's not fair on the patient.'