Rationing of services is leading Doctors to beg the NHS for vital treatments.
As reported by the Guardian today, in 2016-17, the British Medical Journal found that 73,927 requests were made by GPs on behalf of patients that had initially been denied treatment, 50% more than in 2013-14.
The results have sparked worry amongst healthcare professionals that the cutbacks are now stretching into patient care.
Amongst the requests submitted, mental health conditions were the sixth commonest. Although the NHS vowed to improve access to care, 1150 requests from health professionals still had to be submitted to get patients the care they needed.
Similarly, the number of Individual Funding Requests (IFRs) for hip and knee replacements across England rose from 49 to 899 last year:
“Hip and knee replacements are some of the most clinically effective and economical treatments available on the NHS. Unfortunately, patients needing hip and knee surgery have misguidedly become soft targets for NHS savings”, Stephen Cannon, Royal College of Surgeons (RCS).
Richard Vautrey, Deputy Chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP committee has said that “an open and honest” conversation is needed as different Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have different rules on treatments for patients:
“It’s clearly unfair for patients to be subjected to this postcode rationing, and it also adds further to GPs’ workloads as they are called on to provide more and more evidence to support each application.”
Some CCGs such as Stafford and Surrounds, receiving 2123, accept all requests, whereas some such as South Derbyshire, who received 14, accept none.
Jonathan Ashworth, Labour Shadow Health Secretary has said, “Underfunding and neglect of the health service is causing misery for patients and making it harder to access routine treatments on the NHS. Behind every one of these statistics is a patient and their family waiting longer in pain and suffering”.
Ruth Robertson from the Kings Fund states, “With financial pressures growing, we can only expect to see more of this. It is unrealistic to expect the NHS to maintain the current level of service, with the current budget, and so the government needs to either find more money for the NHS, or be honest with the public about what sort of healthcare is can expect in the future.”