GPs Advocate Private Treatment

GPs Advocate Private Treatment

Concerns over the limitations set by Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) mean, in some cases, GPs consider recommending patients to opt for private treatment.

This is according to Spire Healthcare who surveyed 824 GPs in England.

With NHS spending squeezes Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have considerable challenges, particularly in assessing the criteria required for surgery for all procedures offered through the NHS.

Clinical Commissioning Groups vary across the UK and one of their roles is to identify ‘Procedures of Limited Effectiveness’ (PoLCE). It is for these procedures that GPs are conflicted.

The challenges for the GP are ever increasing – dealing with public healthcare restrictions but dedicated to ensuring patients receive the treatment they need.

In recent years though GPs are finding a solution through private healthcare and the option of referring for private treatment patients not meeting CCG criteria but assessed as requiring treatment.

This was the motivation for Spire Healthcare’s survey.

The survey was conducted to learn about how patients who do not meet the eligibility criteria set for surgery (by that GPs CCG) are handled.

Spire Healthcare’s conclusions were that:

• 70 % of GPs tell their patients to go private when they don’t meet the requirements for procedures of limited clinical effectiveness.
• 60% of GPs tell their patients to wait until the condition worsens.

The fact that GPs are, in the majority, informing patients that they do have other options than waiting for their conditions to worsen, or sit on a waiting list, is very significant. The survey results suggest that 63% (an increase of 30% on 2011) of GPs are informing patients that they should consider using their private medical insurance where they have this.

Interestingly two of the most popular treatments being referred for private treatment are actually two of the four NHS funded procedures followed up using Patient Reported Outcome Measures or PROMs – those being varicose veins and hernia repair (hernia surgery).

Carpal tunnel syndrome and tonsillectomy are also popularly referred treatments and these are not PROMs.

The survey also revealed one in six GPs state that knee arthroscopy, knee replacement, hip replacement and cataract surgery, have also been either restricted or had their criteria for proceeding to surgery increased.

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