Patients' right to self-refer21st October 2008
The Department of Health has said that people in England could soon be able to refer themselves to physiotherapists without having to see their GP first.
The DH said it wanted to see patients being able to visit therapists such as physios and dieticians directly.
A large number of NHS trusts have been looking into patient referral plans since 2006.
The government is keen to see the plans imposed across England and has released a report which showed that self-referral helped to lessen work absences and improved access to care.
Around 25% of GP appointments deal with musculo-skeletal issues, where the patient is referred to a physiotherapist.
Health Secretary Alan Johnson said: "Self-referral will help both vulnerable members of society and those with busy lives by providing quicker access without the unnecessary hoop-jumping of going to see the doctor first."
The DH said the amount of physiotherapy staff in the NHS had gone up by more than a third in the last decade to 77,000.
However, waiting list issues still remain and many patients have to wait months to receive treatment.
Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the British Medical Association's GP committee, said self-referral could help with access issues, although he cautioned: "If there were a rise in direct referrals in overstretched areas there would need to be additional investment to meet the demand for appointments."
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Title: Patients' right to self-refer
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 8842
Date Added: 21st Oct 2008