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GPs will not be nationally mandated to use advice and guidance, NHSE confirms

There will be no national mandate for GPs to use advice and guidance in a certain number of cases, NHS England has told Pulse

National medical directors for primary and secondary care said that formalised pathways should be developed ‘locally’, and decisions should be based on an area’s population.

In September, it was reported that NHS England’s upcoming outpatients strategy would further increase the use of advice and guidance (A&G) before GP referrals are accepted, with the RCGP then "voicing concerns" about this proposal. 

However, when asked about the reports that this would be mandated, Dr Stella Vig, national medical director for secondary care and clinical director for elective care, said she ‘doesn’t know’ where that came from, and ‘doesn’t recognise’ those comments.

NHS England also released guidance clarifying the medico-legal risks and clinical responsibility for clinicians using A&G or referral assessment services (RAS), which is now available on the NHS Futures website.

The guidance said that these forms of specialist advice are "expanding rapidly" as a result of improvements to digital services.

On legal issues, it said liability ‘will be determined on a case by case basis’ but that GPs could be liable if "all relevant clinical information is not provided" when sending an A&G request. 

But specialists at hospitals would be accountable if they send back advice to the GP which is ‘not clinically appropriate’ or if they ‘refuse to accept a patient’. 

On turnaround times, NHS England has said that ‘local variables will ultimately dictate the agreed response times’ for hospital teams dealing with A&G – but the guidance recommends that the response time "should not exceed 10 working days for routine requests". 

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Source: Pulse, 30 November 2023


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