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GP referrals on the rise again

Referrals made by GPs increased by 4.5% year-on-year in April and May, and by 2% when adjusted to allow for the number of working days.

And the number of GP referrals actually seen in the two months from 1 April rose by 3.5%, and 1.1% when adjusted for working days, an NHS statistical notice has revealed.

The figures come as NHS England board papers revealed there was a 3.3% increase in the number of GP referrals made in the whole of 2012/13, despite a decrease of 0.5% in 2011/12. This compares with an overall increase in activity of 1.8%, NHS England’s integrated performance report showed.

The paper said: ‘The NHS continues to treat more patients – activity in 2012/13 was 1.8% higher than in 2011/12. However, CCGs are planning that less patients will be treated in 2013/14, for both elective and non-elective activity.’

Dr Chand Nagpaul, GPC negotiator, said: ‘There are an increasing number of requests for re-referrals which are maybe adding to the statistic. We also know we have an increasingly elderly population and morbidity is increasing so it is not entirely surprising there are small increases in numbers of referrals.’

‘We also know that GPs are managing a far greater number of cases in their own practices. The figures belie the degree to which these referral rates would be much higher if it was not for the fact GPs are managing so much more in the community.’