GPs may soon encounter higher levels of rationing of treatments available for patient referral.
The King’s Fund’s latest quarterly monitoring report found that 51% of CCGs are planning to extend eligibility criteria for treatments as part of their efforts to balance the books.
Meanwhile, 44% of CCGs said they were planning to place more limits on access to treatments such as IVF.
The think tank, which interviewed 27 CCG finance leads alongside a larger number of hospital trust finance chiefs, said this could include introducing targets for BMI or smoking cessation in order to approve certain treatments in secondary care.
The latest findings also include over half of CCG leaders (59%) saying they feel that patient care has worsened in their area in the past year, with the pressures on general practice their second biggest concern after A&E waiting times.
Pulse reported earlier this week that plans to cope with winter demand this year ‘seem very hospital focused’ and miss the ‘vital role’ of GPs.
Siva Anandaciva, chief analyst at The King’s Fund, said the survey results are ‘sobering and shows that the NHS funding pressures are now having a real impact on the people using its services’.
He said: ‘This should be a warning for the Chancellor as he prepares the Budget. Funding growth for the NHS is planned to slow to a near halt next year, so without additional funding waiting times for hospital treatment will get longer and the deterioration in patient care is set to continue.’