NHS cancer bonuses ‘are abhorrent, risky and misguided’ – altruism lost

Laura Donnelly, and Victoria Ward in the Telegraph 2nd October 2015 report: NHS cancer bonuses ‘are abhorrent, risky and misguided’   NHS reality agrees.. altruism lost somewhere in this argument..

Fewer patients

Leading doctors speak out amid a growing backlash against new schemes offering doctors payments to cut referrals

Ministers have been urged to ban schemes which pay GPs financial bonuses for reducing referrals to hospital – including cases of suspected cancer.

The calls come amid growing criticism of the NHS initiatives, which doctors have described as “abhorrent, risky and misguided.”

Labour’s new shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander last night called on ministers to “review the impact and extent” of these schemes “as a matter of urgency”.

She said: “Patients must be confident that their GP will always act in their best interests. Financial rewards for denying patients access to care are wrong and risk damaging that trust between doctor and patient.“

Ministers have been urged to ban schemes which pay GPs financial bonuses for reducing referrals to hospital – including cases of suspected cancer.

The calls come amid growing criticism of the NHS initiatives, which doctors have described as “abhorrent, risky and misguided.”

Labour’s new shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander last night called on ministers to “review the impact and extent” of these schemes “as a matter of urgency”.

She said: “Patients must be confident that their GP will always act in their best interests. Financial rewards for denying patients access to care are wrong and risk damaging that trust between doctor and patient.“

An investigation yesterday revealed that practices are being paid up to £11,000 under schemes to reduce referrals to hospitals, some of which involve cutting referrals for suspected cancer.

Dr Chand Nagpaul, chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP committee, said such schemes were “short-sighted and misguided,” and would leave patients questioning their doctors’ motives.

“We believe it is far more appropriate for CCGs to introduce clinical pathways that ensure patients are referred appropriately rather than these crude, salesman-like bonuses which pay GPs simply to make reduction to referrals in numerical terms,” he said..

Dr Louise Irvine, a south London GP, said she found the idea “abhorrent”. “Incentivising reduced cancer referrals is highly risky and contradicts the evidence that GPs should be referring more people earlier for cancer tests,” said Dr Irvine, a spokesman for the National Health Action Party.

The UK has the worst survival rates for cancers in Western Europe, largely due to late diagnosis.

The schemes appear to fly in the face of a recently announced NHS Cancer Strategy, which promised an 80 per cent increase in tests for cancers, in a bid to improve survival Research by Pulse magazine has revealed nine parts of the country offering such schemes.

They include NHS North-East Lincolnshire CCG, which is offering the average practice the equivalent of more than £6,000 to reduce outpatient referrals – including urgent cancer referrals – to the same level as the 25 per cent of practices with the lowest referral rates in 2014/15.

A spokeswoman insisted that the figures quoted were the absolute maximum a practice could earn, and that in order to show significant improvements, they would have to completely overhaul how patients were managed.

Dame Barbara Hakin, national director for commissioning operations at NHS England, said: “The number of patients referred to hospital for urgent cancer checks is up by over 600,000 over the past five years, and we now want it to go up even more, so as to diagnose suspected cancers earlier.

“NICE has set out evidence based guidelines for when patients should be referred, and no CCG incentive scheme should in anyway cut across that. We are in touch with each of the CCGs mentioned to ensure that this is very clearly communicated to all practices.”

Lincolnshire NHS group offered £6,000 to reduce numbers sent for outpatient appointments

Cost over care? GP doctors given cash to cut hospital referrals

Advertisements
This entry was posted in A Personal View, Commissioning, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

One thought on “NHS cancer bonuses ‘are abhorrent, risky and misguided’ – altruism lost

  1. Pingback: GP Occupational Health – too little too late. Lack of trust may ensure the service is ignored.. Say goodbye to continuity of care… | NHS reality. An NHS soapbox. Speakers' corner for the NHS.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s