Two years ago, we were looking into whether GPs in Bucks were using referral management services.

We started this investigation after a member of the public asked us:

Are GPs in Bucks using a private company for referral management?

Referral management systems are used to assess referrals made by GPs. It costs the GP money to refer a patient, so the idea is to save money by avoiding unnecessary referrals. However, research has shown that most of the time this process doesn’t save money, and there were also concerns that the patient’s recovery hadn’t been considered in the assessment.

We asked Bucks CCG whether they use these systems, and they said that they do not. However, some GPs use a “peer review” system. This means that another GP will look at the referral and decide whether it is appropriate. This has reduced the number of referrals made, and saved money.

However, on 15th January 2018 a member of the public contacted us regarding the The Practice Group. They said that some patients they knew had had their referrals assessed by this company, despite what Bucks CCG told us.

We contacted The Practice Group and they confirmed that they had a contract with Milton Keynes University Hospital Foundation Trust (MKUHFT) to provide this service. This means that if you were referred to a Milton Keynes service, your referral could be assessed by them.

We have recently reconfirmed that this is still the case (as of the 24th of January 2019). This is not the decision of your Bucks GP, this is Milton Keynes hospital’s process. You should be able to choose where to receive your treatment, so this might be something to consider when doing so.

If you have any concerns about a referral process, service, or any other health care matter, feel free to get in touch, or leave feedback by finding the service in question on our homepage.

Published on 24 Jan, 2019 (updated 17 May, 2019)

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2 comments on "Are Bucks GPs using a referral service?"

  • Commenter said on 16th May 2019

    The Practice Group is responsible for some 50 GP practices and healthcare centres, providing more than a million appointments each year for 200,000 patients across the country. It was set up in 2005 by two GPs and a former investment banker and is based in Amersham, Bucks. Over the years it has taken on contracts, as well as surgeries in prisons, walk-in centres and specialist clinics.

  • Commenter said on 21st October 2019

    My doctor has to put referrals through the referral system (he is based at a surgery in Bucks). He seemed upset by the fact he had to do this. I remember him telling me this a few years ago when I was in an appointment with him. It was sad for him as he his my doctor and he should be able to make the referral decision without having to ask another organisation whether it is ok to do so. I guess it is just some kind of vetting system to see whether a referral is really necessary? Surely your doctor knows you better than some distant stranger!

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