Referrals must be cleared with GPs
GPs must be kept constantly informed about the progress of their referrals, new Government guidance has stressed.
Copies of consultant-to-consultant referrals must be sent to the patients' GP, with GPs given the right to veto the referral in exceptional circumstances.
Only clinically urgent cross-condition referrals can be made without the GP's consent.
Hospitals have also been told not to sub-contract work to other providers unless it is essential. Patients must be told if their initial choice is changed.
The guidance, Technical Notes for Choice at Referral, also stated that GP referral constitutes authority to treat and that providers must not turn people away without the authority of the patient's PCT.
Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC negotiator, said tough action to stop sub-contracting of care had been needed.
He said: 'It's particularly galling when patients are
referred to a service then sent off somewhere else.'
Dr Vautrey also called for more appointments outside the 13 week cut-off point to be made available to patients. Current guidelines allow this only if the patient has rejected a slot inside the time frame.
He said: 'If we're talking about genuine choice, patients need to have the choice to wait a little bit longer and go to the hospital they really want.'