The investigation was published today.

This scheme is being rolled out in Birmingham, where the Birmingham South Central CCG is offering GP practices a payment equating to over £11,000 per practice to reduce hospital referrals.

The scheme even applies to urgent cancer referrals, where patients should be seen within 2 weeks but implementation of this new scheme runs the risk that a referral might not happen at all.

The General Practitioners Committee has called the scheme “ethically questionable” and GPs have asked the General Medical Council to investigate.

Ann Houghton, specialist clinical negligence solicitor at Anthony Collins Solicitors commented;

“It is extremely concerning to learn that such a scheme even exists. We all appreciate that changes need to be made to manage the NHS budget so as to protect the NHS for future generations but patient safety must always be paramount. A line has been crossed when saving money is directly and categorically jeopardising patient safety. Such a scheme will undoubtedly risk lives. At Anthony Collins Solicitors we already help patients who have suffered because GPs have delayed referring to specialists, especially when cancer is suspected, but sadly it would seem the number of patients affected in this way is going to rise because of this scheme. It is also important to bear in mind the effect this will have on hard-working, devoted GPs who are put under pressure to cut corners and not able to provide the level of care they feel they should.”

For more information

For more information or to discuss any of the issues in this article, contact Ann Houghton.