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GPs offered £5 per patient to reduce referrals by at least 10%

GPs are being incentivised to cut referrals by 10% as part of a £1.4m plan to cut referrals.

NHS Barnsley CCG are offering practices up to £5 for meeting what it calls the ‘ambitious’ target in a number of specialties.

However, local GP leaders have branded the scheme ‘unsafe’ and called for an immediate review.

The target is the most severe uncovered by Pulse’s ‘Cash for cuts’ investigation, which received replies from 181 CCGs about incentives for GPs to cut referrals.

Under the scheme, practices receive £5 per patient for cutting referrals by a minimum of 10% across a range of specialties: cardiology, colorectal surgery, ENT, gastroenterology, general medicine, general surgery, gynaecology, hepatobiliary & pancreatic surgery, paediatric ENT, paediatric trauma and orthopaedics, plastic surgery, trauma & orthopaedics, upper gastrointestinal surgery, and vascular surgery.

The CCG has set aside £1.4m for the scheme, which also includes specific clinical thresholds for a range of procedures including knee and hip replacement, cataracts and hernias.

However, Dr Dean Eggitt, the BMA GP Committee representative for Barnsley, said he was worried about the scheme: ‘The scheme is unsafe and needs to be reviewed urgently.’

An NHS Barnsley CCG spokesperson: ‘We invest in a comprehensive “practice delivery scheme”, which increases investment in capacity and infrastructure in primary care to meet increasing demands. In turn, practices work with us to improve care and outcomes for Barnsley residents.

‘This includes an ambitious but achievable 10% improvement in clinically appropriate referrals. Financially, it is an effective use of local resources which will improve patient experience and outcomes and increase investment in primary care in line with the Five Year Forward View commitments. Primary and secondary care clinicians have been involved in the development of this scheme.’