As the NHS struggles to make £22 billion of efficiency savings by 2020, the magazine Pulse has identified nine CCGs across England and Wales that are financially rewarding GP practices who are able to reduce referrals to certain services. Such services include scans, tests and consultant appointments including, in some areas, for cancer patients.
The need to ensure appropriate referrals are made is critical in the fight to make the best use of NHS funds but also essential to improving patient care and reducing unwarranted variation across the country. However, financially incentivising GPs to reduce referrals at the point of consultation is damaging to the doctor patient relationship and does not encourage the systematic application of CCG defined clinical pathways.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the GPs committee of the doctors’ trade union, the British Medical Association, believes “It’s short-sighted and misguided of CCGs to introduce such mechanisms, because they do lead to the potential for patients questioning the motives of GP referrals. We believe it is far more appropriate for CCGs to introduce clinical pathways that ensure patients are referred appropriately rather than these crude, salesman-like bonuses which pay GPs simply to make reduction to referrals in numerical terms.”
The application of defined clinical pathways is possible through the implementation of automated referral management. At psHEALTH, we work with CCGs to automate referral management procedures that ensure appropriate referrals to secondary care are made. Introducing defined clinical pathways reduces costs, improves overall patient experience and allows detailed management information to be collected which can be used to improve all aspects of health delivery in the local economy.