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GP Referrals to Hospitals are Decreasing, According to Latest Figures

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According to the latest figures released by the Department of Health, there have been 4.7% fewer referrals to hospital made by GPs in the three months from April to July than there were for the same months in 2010.

This has led to concern that it may be storing up problems for the future, as fewer people are getting the care they need at an early stage. Outpatient attendances have also been recorded at a lower level, dropping by 2.7% for the same period year on year.

The British Medical Association has stated that the NHS is “under a lot of pressure to do less.” They have warned of the potential for the NHS to experience financial problems in the future as a result of the changes that are occurring at present.

Professor Norman Williams from the Royal College of Surgeons pointed to the figures as “rationing by stealth”. He also voiced concerns that fewer referrals now would lead to problems in the future for people who do not receive the right treatment at an early stage.

But it is said that many primary care trusts are researching the referral patterns exhibited by local GPs. Some are said to refer people very quickly, which is sometimes referred to as ‘over testing’. Clearly it is thought that some patients are referred unnecessarily, although there is still concern that some patients in need of help may not be referred soon enough to make a difference.

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