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Another postcode lottery over health
A SURVEY has found that 79 per cent of GPs in Wiltshire are unable at least once a month to refer a patient for further treatment on the NHS because they do not fit primary care trust criteria for the procedure they require.
This outstrips the national average of 70 per cent, according to a survey by polling and research consultancy ComRes and commissioned by private healthcare provider BMI Healthcare.
Alongside the inability to refer patients, one in four GPs in the county said they had already seen an increase in patients asking about paying for care outside of the NHS, and one in six said they were increasingly instigating discussions about private healthcare options with their patients.
Dr Peter Swinyard, based at Phoenix Surgery, in Toothill , who is chairman of the Family Doctor Association, said BMI was trying to make a point as a private provider, but agreed the number and type of rejected referrals differ according to the PCT rules in different areas.
“My experience around the country is it’s very patchy and in some areas you find GPs have to jump through all sorts of hoops to get patients referred and in other areas GPs can refer who they want, where they want, when they want,” he said.
“There are some people we refer who do fall outside of the PCT guidelines and they are things which are procedures considered to be of less value.
“It may be things like they are having varicose veins operations or hernia operations which are not considered to be suitable for NHS money. They are considered to be less useful than a cardiac bypass or a hip replacement.”
James Lowe, executive director of BMI The Ridgeway Hospital, said: “As this survey shows, patients are being forced to consider how they will be treated and how they will pay for their healthcare. There are a number of reasons for this, coupled with the reforms and the ever increasing restrictions, it is essential patients understand what options they have to access healthcare outside of the NHS.”
An NHS Swindon spokesman said: “NHS Swindon has been working closely with GPs and providing them with advice and guidance, based on clinical- effectiveness, and best practice, including NICE guidance.
“This means patients can receive a greater range of treatment within the local community, as an alternative to receiving treatment in hospitals, bringing care closer to home.”