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NHS leans on GPs in new cuts drive

NHS chiefs hope to cut the number of patients referred to hospitals by 30 per cent in a cost-cutting drive, a leaked memo reveals.

The bosses have told health trusts to launch weekly peer reviews of referrals, with ‘significant additional funding’ on offer if they put them in place by the end of the year.

Under the scheme, GPs will see their decisions to send patients to hospital being pored over by other doctors. It is hoped it will lead to a reduction in referrals as colleagues will point out cases where seeing a specialist was unnecessary.

After the memo was obtained by doctors’ magazine Pulse, NHS England defended the scheme and said the final decision to refer would still rest with the patient’s GP.

‘Clinical peer reviews are a simple way for GPs to support each other and help patients get the best care, from the right person, at the right time without unnecessary trips to hospital,’ a spokesman said.

More than half of clinical commissioning groups already have a peer review system, he added.