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BMA backs GPs in their objections to financial incentives to limit hospital referrals

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 29 October 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a2306
  1. Lynn Eaton
  1. 1London

    The BMA is supporting GPs in Oxfordshire in their objections to attempts by their local primary care trust to limit the number of hospital referrals.

    The trust is offering general practices a financial reward if they hit a target for reducing their referrals to avert a possible overspend of £23m (€29m; $36m). But doctors fear that this approach may undermine patient confidence in their clinical decision making.

    The policy was introduced at the beginning of October after several weeks’ discussion with local GPs. There are two elements to the deal. In the first GPs are paid to consult with other doctors in their practice about non-urgent cases before deciding whether or not to refer the patient. They are paid for 4-5 hours a week for this and an average practice of 10 000 …

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