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GPs having to make referrals on behalf of private providers

Exclusive GPs are having to make referrals on behalf on non-NHS providers because private groups don’t have access to the e-Referral Service, which is mandatory for all NHS providers. 

In a newsletter, the Lincolnshire LMC said that NHS providers can no longer accept non-eRS referrals, which means independent secondary care providers who want to refer patients to NHS providers will have to ask GPs to make those referrals for them.

The BMA has described the situation as ’absurd and unnecessary’

The GP Forward View in 2016 introduced changes to the NHS Standard Contract used by trusts to prohibit them from sending patients back to GPs for re-referrals to other specialists.

Lincolnshire LMC medical director Dr Kieran Sharrock said that the LMC was able to tell private providers to refer to hospitals themselves, without having to go through GPs. 

However, he said that due to the mandatory requirement for all referrals to go through the eRS – which private providers have no access to – GPs are being burdened with a greater workload.

He told Pulse: ’We were able to say to non-NHS providers, ”You really should be doing this work”, and they started to do it. It’s only since eRS has been mandatory for secondary care hospitals that it’s come back as a problem. The non-NHS providers are saying, ”Well, we can’t use eRS, so we can’t send the referral on to ourselves at the other hospital”.’

Dr Farah Jameel, BMA GP committee executive team lead for IT, said that she was not aware of delays and refusals being a widespread problem ’at this stage’, but added: However, where this is happening, it has implications for both patients, who may experience a delay in much-needed treatment, and for the workload for NHS GPs, who can be left to resolve the situation and make the referral themselves.

’This is a clearly absurd and unnecessary situation.’

The BMA said NHS providers should continue to accept referrals from independent providers as they did before eRS was introduced until they have access to the new system.

NHS England has been approached for comment.