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The ICSs ‘diverting’ the most GP referrals through controversial model

There is huge regional variation in the rate at which health systems are preventing patients joining the elective waiting list through “advice and guidance” to GPs, according to analysis by HSJ.

Some systems – including Northamptonshire – have managed to ramp up these “diverts” to such an extent that they now report around one A&G case to every 3.5 cases cleared from the waiting list through treatment or seeing a consultant.

This contrasts with others, such as Lancashire and South Cumbria, which only reports one A&G case for every 16 cleared from the waiting list.

Advice and guidance involves GPs consulting specialists before making direct referrals and around half the time this results in a referral being avoided. The model is set to be a cornerstone of NHS England’s new outpatient transformation strategy, which is due imminently.

Victoria Tzortziou-Brown, vice chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the analysis “confirms reports we’ve heard from our members – that there is too much regional variation in the use of the ‘advice and guidance’”.

She added: “Some GPs report that when advice and guidance is properly resourced and well implemented, it can be a helpful tool for improving communications with their colleagues in secondary care.

“[But] it is clear that more time, funding and capacity needs to be dedicated to allow clinicians to communicate efficiently and effectively whilst respecting professionalism.”

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 9 April 2024

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