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Referral schemes restrict access

7th March 2006

The BMA warned this week that referral management schemes, set up by primary care trusts to vet individual GPs' decisions to refer a patient for hospital treatment, are being used to ration treatment and delay access to secondary care.

In some cases, the BMA has claimed, the schemes are being used as holding centres, to impose a delay on making referrals. In other extreme cases, trusts are using clerks to judge whether a GP is appropriately referring a patient.

No national model exists to show how they can best be developed, as the schemes have been set up independently from the government. 

A survey of BMA members gave a mixed picture; where local clinicians had been consulted things were working well, but in other cases could result in delays in making the referral.  The BMA said that such practice flew in the face of the government's patient choice agenda.

 

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