GPs face increasingly tighter restrictions on their ability to refer for specialist care, reveals an investigation by Pulse into plans drawn up by the most cash-strapped CCGs in the country.
The investigation reveals that CCGs are introducing policies that cap surgical referrals, require overweight patients to go a on a ‘weight loss programmes’ before an operation and deny hard-of-hearing patients hearing aids and audiological care.
The investigation comes as GPs say they are finding it harder to refer for surgical treatment of conditions like ganglions or carpal tunnel and, in one area, requests for hysterectomies are simply being ‘fobbed off with a Mirena coil’.
More than a third (36%) of GPs told Pulse they are facing new constraints on services to which they were previously able to refer.
The investigation comes as the health service prepares to implement £22bn of efficiency savings by 2020. But only two years after coming into existence, 19 CCGs have been ordered by NHS England to devise emergency plans to cut their budget deficits.
Full story in Pulse 30 July 2015