Medicopolitical Digest

Rules on extracontractual referrals relaxedNHS white paper proposes three projectsOmbudsman now has a role in clinical complaintsTrusts should have flexibility over manpower

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 23 November 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1336
  1. Linda Beecham

    Rules on extracontractual referrals relaxed

    From April 1998 NHS trusts will no longer be required to seek authorisation for elective extra-contractual referrals (ECRs). An executive letter (EL(96)94) explains that local protocols agreed between health authorities, general practitioners, and dentists will ensure that trusts can accept ECRs without having to seek authority from the responsible health authority. This was one of the recommendations of the NHS Efficiency Scrutiny in its report Seeing the wood, sparing the trees.

    The original timetable envisaged completion by April 1997 but it was decided that more time was needed to allow smooth transition to the new system so that protocols can be completed by the end of September 1997 in time to influence the 1998–9 contracting round.

    The efficiency scrutiny estimated that this change together with the abolition of notification requirements for tertiary and emergency ECRs, which have already been implemented, would save about £12m a year in NHS trust administrative costs.

    NHS white paper proposes three projects

    The government's white paper on the NHS, A Service with Ambitions, which was published last week (16 November, p 1226), proposed three programmes of work which will be carried out over the next six to nine months. The projects will be on information, professional development, and managing for quality.

    Information is not only about giving patients more informed choices, but also about access to databases by clinicians and what information technology is needed to support research and clinical development. The team …

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