LMC leaders across London are pushing PCTs to sign up to a set of principles designed to preserve GPs’ referral freedom, as national medical organisations throw their weight behind Pulse’s A right to refer campaign.
Londonwide LMCs is promoting 10 principles for referral rationing, beginning with ‘it is a GP’s professional responsibility to refer to or seek an opinion from a consultant or other clinician’ and ‘a GP must be able to directly refer to secondary care when this is in a GP’s opinion appropriate’.
It warned restrictions in referrals were coming alongside severe rationing of care, with more than 300 treatments added to ‘low clinical priority’ lists across the capital in the last nine months.
The BMA and the Family Doctor Association have both leant their support to Pulse’s campaign to preserve GPs’ right to refer, alongside grassroots GPs across the country.
GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said: ‘Doctors are suspicious of imposition of referral management centres, seeing them as bureaucracy to cut costs rather than ensure patients get appropriate and timely care.’
‘We therefore support the principles behind this campaign. We would always believe GPs should have the right to refer whenever they think it is in their patient’s best interest.’
Dr Peter Swinyard, chair of the Family Doctor Association, said: ‘We should always be working in the best interests of the patient in front of us.’
‘It is beneficial to have a retrospective review of referrals within practices and peer GP review, but blanket bans, caps and restrictions are bizarre, unethical and dangerous.’