Patients are facing growing rationing of treatments such as counselling, cataract removal and IVF since the coalition restructured the NHS last year, GPs say.
In a survey of 315 family doctors, GP magazine found that 71% believed that restrictions on access to treatment in their area had increased since April 2013, when the controversial shake-up of the NHS in England began.
That led to the creation of 211 GP-led clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), which control the budget for healthcare in an area and decide who can receive what treatment. GPs said patients were encountering growing difficulty in receiving care from community nurses, counselling, cataract surgery and fertility treatment. Rationing has increased significantly in the past nine months, doctors responding to the survey said.
One family doctor, a partner in a surgery, told the magazine: “We have huge cost pressures and this is resulting in increased rationing and fragmentation of services to reduce costs.”
However, access to weight-loss surgery has improved, although patients can face what Dr David Haslam, a GP and chair of the National Obesity Forum, called a “torturous” path to getting it. And some obese patients are expected to attend weight-loss programmes for at least a year before they will be considered for surgery.
Some CCGs aim to scrap rationing policies inherited from their predecessor primary care trusts once their finances are in the black. For example, six which have previously refused to offer women IVF treatment as recommended by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence hope to start doing so…….”