In a controversial move St Helens CCG is considering a suspension of all non-urgent referrals over the winter period. The plan, which would require any decision not to refer to be agreed by the patient and the GP, has been proposed to reduce elective demand and to help bridge the CCG’s funding gap.
The view of the CCG is that a suspension would support hospitals during the busy winter period and enable them to concentrate on urgent referrals, such as those for suspected cancer patients and sick children.
Popular or not, the proposal considered by St Helens CCG emphasises the significant challenge facing CCGs. As noted by a CCG spokesperson ‘hospital referrals are one of our biggest areas of financial pressure’. Finding a way to better manage referrals is therefore paramount for CCGs as they look to balance their books.