By Ian Quinn
A cash-strapped PCT is imploring GPs to refer more patients to its independent sector treatment centre, Pulse has learned.
Havering PCT has asked GPs to send any patient needing cataract, hip or knee surgery to the North East London Treatment Centre in Ilford because of ‘real issues relating to funding’.
Debbie Fielding, director of strategy and organisational change at NHS Havering told an LMC meeting: “What will significantly change (the funding situation) is for all referrals to be sent to the ISTC as, essentially, the PCT does not have to pay. ‘Any cataracts, hips and knees that can be sent to ISTC would really help the trust and GPs should use the ISTC as much as they can.’
NHS Havering is facing a current overspend of £2.1 million but is hoping to claw that back to a £500,000 surplus by the end of the financial year. A spokesperson for the PCT said: ‘NHS Havering has been tied into a minimum take contract with North East London Treatment Centre which currently has capacity therefore NHS Havering are encouraging GPs to refer patients to the centre. This contract was negotiated by the Department of Health in 2005/06.
‘Feedback [on the ISTC] from patients and their GPs on waiting times, environment and treatment has been reported positively. However, if a patient does not meet the criteria to be treated at the NELTC they will be referred to an appropriate provider.’
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