Patients DO know best

Now doctors agree

Pulse is THE magazine that goes out to GPs.  A recent issue had a fascinating article about letting patients refer themselves to Physiotherapy.

English: NHS logo


The article came up with the conclusion that doing this had “slashed care costs by almost a third compared with referral through a GP, a study by one NHS primary care service has found”.

Apparently the sensible folk in Barnsley introduced a self-referral system.  Patients phoned and spoke to a senior physiotherapist doing triage – who sorted you out – and off you went.  Bit like what happens abroad;  when I have met with Andy Burnham, ((ex Minister of Health), and asked him, with experience of how health systems work abroad, what service he would most iike to copy in NHS?  “Get rid of referral letters”. Labour is playing around with this suggestion as part of their 2015 election manifesto.

Physiotherapy, Kompong Chhnang

Exceed Worldwide

And the researchers looking into Barnsley’s scheme seem to agree this is what is wanted.  They came up with:

Compared with GP-referral, the self-referral route cut the cost of care by 32%, with an average saving of £36.42 per patient per episode of care.

  • That supposes that we DO have brains, and might know better than a 10-minute cursory interview with an over-worked GP.
  • Doing it the Barnsley way, there was also a reduction in missed appointments.

And in view of the mounting waiting times being reported across the country, they came up with unbelievable stats:

  • Waiting times cut by self-referral; average of 3.5 days
  • compared with 31 days for GP referral

Needless to say, patients seemed very satisfied, and all sorts of lovely figures re savings were floating around.

Well, it’s not rocket science.  Just (UN)common sense.

Politicians and common sense

I wanted to know what might be happening in future, and thought I would see if I could get a quote from David Cameron’s office.  My contacts in Cabinet have long since disappeared, so I Google “Contact David Cameron”.  Up comes an email address; I click on and send through a message.

Back comes reply this office is no longer in use since Mr. Cameron became Prime Minister in 2010.

Now, am I stupid, or is Cameron’s office lacking common sense?  Surely someone could get emails, supposedly from a current web site, to be forwarded on.  Again, it’s not rocket science, is it?  But this could explain why my gut feeling is the initiative by the sensible folk in Barnsley might never get off the ground.










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