GPs referrals to be vetted by panels to reduce hospital demand

Published: 31st August 2017

As demand for hospital services rise, reducing unnecessary primary care referrals remains a real challenge for Trusts and CCGs. New NHS England guidelines designed to address this challenge hit the headlines yesterday, following the leak of an NHS memo in Pulse Today. The scheme is being expanded nationwide from next week, following a pilot in Darlington and Hartlepool and Stockton-On-Tees CCGs.

The memo suggests that CCGs will scrutinise practices’ referrals by asking them to ensure that there is a clinical peer review of all non-urgent referrals. More than half of CCGs have already implemented a peer review system according to NHS England.

The good news is that the guidance makes it clear that GPs will retain responsibility for each patient and make the final decision.

Back in January we posted an article outlining our recommended three low cost approaches to managing referrals and providing GPs with case by case learning. These new guidelines appear to plug into the third approach;

1. Provide GPs with comprehensive local guidelines and support
2. Provision of a local Advice & Guidance services
3. King’s Fund analysis ‘strategy built around peer review and audit’

By using the immediate Advice & Guidance telephone system delivered by Consultant Connect, over 40 CCGs and 1,600 GP surgeries are already finding more than 60% of calls lead to a referral being avoided – removing the need for peer review intervention. Where a referral is required clinicians can confirm the correct pathway for a patient which improves care and reduces hospital costs. Plus all conversations are recorded for medico-legal purposes and can be accessed by approved users for GP training.

Should a GP need to refer, The King’s Fund approach doesn’t reject referrals after involvement from other reviewing clinicians – so patient treatment is not delayed. Instead, it relies on reviewing referrals after the fact and the sharing of local expertise and best practice to drive improvement.

If you would like a demonstration of how Consultant Connect can offer an Advice & Guidance service for GPs in your local area, please call us on 01865 261467 or email


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