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Wednesday 26th June 2019

GP referral times vary

24th March 2011

An independent probe into the quality of GP practices has highlighted variations in referral times to hospital.


The King’s Fund study shows that some patients wait far longer than others for referrals to hospital, with the think tank suggesting this was due to variations in the performance of doctors.

The two-year review was led by a panel of experts including Sir Ian Kennedy, the former head of the Healthcare Commission, and Professor Steve Field, the former leader of the Royal College of GPs.

While finding that overall care was good there was variation in standards, particularly involving patients referred to cancer specialists, and issues of continuity of care and wide variations in the admission rates to hospital for patients with conditions that could be treated outside hospital.

Panel chairman Sir Ian said: “General practice is the bedrock of the NHS and the profession is rightly proud of the contribution it makes to the health of the nation. But the environment in which it operates is changing and the profession must change with it.”

The panel also felt some GPs were unwilling to measure their performance against each other.

The Patients Association said it was important for the government to support GPs which were struggling with performance, particularly at a time that it is handing responsibility for commissioning services to GPs.

The British Medical Association felt there should be a reduction in bureaucracy and that GPs needed “time off the treadmill” to enable them to look critically at what they do and make improvements.


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