It was brought home to me this week that the cuts imposed by the NEW Devon (Northern, Eastern and Western Devon) Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is in charge of our local health service, mean that GPs can’t refer patients to specialists for many ‘routine’ conditions – which may nevertheless be conditions which cause considerable discomfort and even risk serious complications down the line.
So although the Group says it is ‘prioritising’ the NHS Constitution commitment to ‘consultant-led treatment within a maximum of 18-weeks from referral for non-urgent conditions’, the real wait for patients will be much longer – because you’ll have to become ‘urgent’ to get referred in this first place!
In the bad old days you had to wait, but at least you knew you were on the list. Now you can’t even get on the list, not because there isn’t a specialist available, but because the list for your condition simply doesn’t exist in our area. It does in other areas, of course – it’s a postcode lottery.
This situation is partly caused, Independent County Councillor Claire Wright suggests out in her latest column in the Express and Echo, by the expensive, pro-privatisation NHS reorganisation forced through by David Cameron’s former health secretary Andrew Lansley.
UPDATE: Owen Jones reports that CCGs elsewhere in the country are paying GP practices NOT TO REFER patients.