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NHS chief hails GP efforts to reduce referrals

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has praised GPs for their efforts to reduce referrals to secondary care.

Speaking at yesterday’s NHS Providers conference, Mr Stevens said this was an ’unprecedented action’ taken by GPs, at the same time as their working model is undergoing radical change.

Mr Stevens also said it came as ’GP numbers over the last seven years have actually fallen but their workload has risen’.

He said: ‘GPs have taken unprecedented action to manage elective demand, actually cutting new referrals so far this year.’

Last month, NHS England seemed to drop plans for peer review of GP referrals following a backlash from the profession and NHS England’s own figures showing that the growth in GP referrals so far this year was already down 1.1%.

Some other ‘good news’, Mr Stevens said was that ‘we’re now seeing a big increase in the number of new doctors willing to qualify as GPs’, but he added: ‘We’re seeing real pressures in the GP retirement rate.’

And he said: ‘We are now embarked upon the most profound changes in general practice not only since 1948 but since 1911.

‘We are seeing a reinvention of the clinical model, the career model and the business model of what general practice looks like – while retaining list basis care and the trust and continuity for those patients for whom it matters so much.’

In the same speech, Mr Stevens called on politicans to honour their promises of £350m a week more for NHS after Brexit.