Restriction of specialist referrals under new NHS ‘rationing’ plan for London

A controversial programme of NHS “rationing” is to be introduced in London, including GPs being urged not to refer patients to hospital specialists and consultants, and the axing of some outpatient appointments.

NHS chiefs hope the programme will save more than £60m in the next few months and plug a hole in the budget.

The major changes, some of which will take effect immediately, will affect essential hospital care rather than treatments sometimes considered more peripheral. The changes will affect millions of people and include significantly reducing referrals to consultants, axing some outpatient appointments and replacing them with a phone conversation, and urging GPs to find “alternative ways” of dealing with patients who need hospital referrals.

The changes were outlined in a letter from the North West London Collaboration of clinical commissioning groups (NWLCCCG), which funds NHS health services for more than two million Londoners, to key individuals including local MPs just under two weeks ago – on the same day the prime minister reinforced his commitment to funding the NHS while announcing he was suspending parliament.

Full story in The Guardian, 8 September 2019