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Referral moves are about best value for all

Following your editorial 'Denying surgery flies in face of choice', I would like to clarify our position on the referral of patients for certain elective surgeries, and on ensuring such interventions provide the best value for both individuals and for the NHS.

We need to support clinicians to ensure that those who need referral get referred and those who don't do not.

I hope your readers would agree that we should use new evidence to improve and assist clinical decisions.

The credit crunch certainly throws these issues into stark relief but we should always be wary to ensure that NHS resources are not being used to put patients through needless medical intervention.

The NHS has always been responsible for ensuring that its limited resources are used optimally to maximise the health of both individual patients and the country as a whole. In certain cases, doing things how they have always been done before may lead to unsustainable increases in the cost of healthcare, which could ultimately threaten the NHS's founding principles.

From David Stout, director, Primary Care Trust Network

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