Quick Search

NHS Spends Millions on Private Firms that Block GP Referrals

An investigation by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has revealed that the National Health Service (NHS) is spending millions of pounds on private companies that stop GPs referring patients to hospitals. The investigation found 39% of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) use a referral management system of some kind to help manage outpatient activity in local hospitals, and a third of the schemes are provided by private companies.

In the last three years, CCGs have spent £57m on schemes that screen patient referrals from GPs to specialist services. Some of the schemes aim to decrease costs, while others hope to improve the quality of GP referrals. But almost three quarters of CCGs which responded were unable to provide evidence that disclosed whether or not their scheme had saved money overall.

Here are listed some findings from the BMJ investigation:

  • 69% of CCGs with schemes disclosed operating costs. Since April 2013, these CCGs combined have spent at least £57m on schemes. 
  • 74% of CCGs (53 Groups) with schemes failed to supply figures to show whether money had been saved overall
  • Almost a third (32%) of the schemes are provided by private companies, while a further 29% are provided in house and 11% by local NHS trusts.
  • Overall, there were Ninety-three referral management schemes in operation across 72 CCGs, with some CCGs having more than one scheme.

The deputy chair of the BMA’s GP committee, Dr Richard Vautrey said that the CCGs are leaping at these schemes without any clear indication of benefit and that they’re just hopeful that it might lessen their costs.

As public bodies, there should be an expectation on every CCG to account for what it’s doing, he added.

The Chair of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, said it was “distressing” to see such little evidence of referral management centres saving money and called for improved evaluation of the schemes.

Visit our blog page daily for more updates on healthcare system of the UK.

Recruitment Synergy is a UK based Medical Recruitment Agency. We offer Medical Recruitment and migrational services to our clients and candidates all over the UK.