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‘Make patients pay and limit minor procedures’ says BMA-backed report

By Nigel Praities

Treatment for minor ailments – such as varicose veins - should be restricted and more controls agreed with GPs on their referrals in order to meet the savings required for the NHS, says a BMA-backed report.

The NHS Confederation report - produced in partnership with the BMA and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges - looks at ideas from clinicians as to how the NHS can find some of the £20bn in efficiency savings due by 2014.

It recommends that demand for vascular surgery is better managed, with greater controls on surgery for varicose veins and intermittent claudication, so that specialists are able to concentrate on managing ‘more complex' problems.

Other procedures – such as the removal of skin tags and seborrhoeic keratonoses – should have their NHS funding removed altogether and patients should be asked to pay for them, the report urges.

Other advice includes developing new referral guidelines locally between GPs and specialists on orthopaedics and vascular surgery and restricting costly procedures, such as MRIs, to consultant-approval only.

The report comes after MPs from the House of Commons Health Committee warned yesterday that the Government's NHS spending plans will require unprecedented efficiency savings that will ‘test services to the limit'.

NHS Confederation's clinical director Hugo Mascie-Taylor said: ‘This is the start of an important debate and these ideas need to be considered carefully.

‘The NHS treats millions of people a year and does so with care and professionalism but there are always ways to improve, to do things better and to reduce waste at the same time.'

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