GPs paid for not referring patients20th October 2008
A patient group has sharply criticised a policy by Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust which gives GPs a bonus if they do not refer patients to hospital.
The Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre's Patient Support Group said the idea was "absolutely ridiculous".
Oxfordshire PCT brought in the scheme to encourage GP surgeries to reduce referral rates.
A GP practice with around 10,000 patients would be given £10,000 to review referrals, and would be awarded "up to" £10,000 extra if it reduced referral numbers, at a total cost to the trust of £1.2 million.
The trust said the cost of hospital referrals was currently £6 million and patient referrals to Oxford Radcliffe Hospital NHS Trust and Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre NHS Trust had increased by 8%.
Sue Woollacott, chairman of the Nuffield patient support group, said: "I think it's absolutely ridiculous. It seems to imply that GPs aren't presently making good judgements and need financial incentives in order to do that."
She added that if patients' treatment was delayed it could end up causing complications in the future.
A spokeswoman for Oxfordshire PCT said: "We have significantly increasing rates of referral into secondary care providers. We're trying to understand why."
"The payment is for the time it takes to do the review and a bonus if they manage to bring the referral rates down."
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Title: GPs paid for not referring patients
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 8822
Date Added: 20th Oct 2008