Notts doctor: 'NHS putting cash before its patients'
A DOCTOR has warned that patients are being put at risk to save money.
In a stinging attack on the way the new healthcare system is being run, Dr Ian Campbell, a GP in Carlton, said doctors and nurses were being "pushed beyond the point of safety" and "asked to take risks with your health in order to save money".
He says doctors are being forced to reduce the number of people they send to hospital and that they may not be able to refer some patients, even those with genuine health problems.
In a letter sent out to 6,000 patients Dr Campbell outlined his concerns.
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He said: "What this means to you, our patients, is that you may no longer be entitled to a hospital doctor's opinion even if you, and we, think it appropriate. You may no longer be entitled to your operation if it is deemed to be an unnecessary expense.
"Delaying or avoiding hospital investigations will inevitably put our patients at greater risk. As doctors and nurses we believe we are being pushed beyond the point of safety. In other words, we are being asked to take risks with your health in order to save money."
The Government's shake-up of the NHS has abolished what were formerly known as primary care trusts – the organisations that paid for and planned healthcare services for an area.
They have been replaced with clinical commissioning groups – which are led by GPs.
In his letter Dr Campbell detailed how his particular clinical commissioning group, Nottingham North and East, which caters for 145,000 people, had "overspent" – a figure believed to be around £4 million – and is now having to make savings.
Speaking to the Post, he said: "Doctors should never have been allowed to be in charge of budgets, instead of blaming politicians people will now blame doctors when things go wrong – and they clearly are."
He forecast that in the future patients may have to forgo much-needed operations because they are too costly.
Nottingham North and East clinical commissioning group chairman Dr Tony Marsh said Dr Campbell was a "relatively low voice" in the organisation, but he said that some of the 20 practices in the group "may be making too many hospital referrals".
Dr Marsh said that there had been an overspend in the budget, but this was being accounted for by "contingency reserves".
"The real challenge will be next year. All the practices are going to have to work together, and share expertise and knowledge," he said.
A statement from the Nottingham North and East clinical commissioning group said: "We need to achieve savings of just over 3% next year, which approximates to £4 million.
"One of the challenges faced nationally is that of reducing the number of referrals to hospital."
See the full letter from Dr Ian Campbell at www.thisisnottingham.co.uk