‘Advice and guidance’ should not act as a barrier to timely referrals, says College Chair

Responding to the latest proposals to expand the use of ‘advice and guidance’ referrals, Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners said the following:

“In our ongoing discussions with NHS England about a national outpatient strategy, we have voiced concerns about any proposal to insist that all GP referrals must come through the ‘advice and guidance’ system.

“We’ve seen disparities by region, with some of our GPs saying that, when resourced appropriately and implemented well, it is a helpful tool to increase communications with their colleagues in the rest of the system. In others it seems to be used as a barrier to artificially protect waiting lists and prevent patients getting the care they need. This can have significant impact on already overworked GPs dealing with the spillover of a greater number of referrals that are delayed or rejected.

“We fully support a closer relationship between primary and secondary care, along with any measures to ensure a smoother referral process for patients. However, A&G should only be used to do what it’s name suggests provide advice and guidance rather than act as a barrier to timely patient referrals.”

Further information

RCGP press office: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 54,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.