Headlines: October 1st, 1999

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence is appealing to GPs, managers and nurses to come forward with schemes they have devised locally for improving the referral of patients to hospital. The appeal results from pressure to reduce hospital waiting lists and at the same time cope with the growing demand for services. Last year an extra half million people were treated in hospital.Analysis of waiting lists has shown a significant number of unnecessary and incorrect referrals resulting from a communication failure between GPs and hospital specialists. In situations where GPs are aware of the treatment they can start it immediately. In such cases referral would only be necessary where the treatment did not work. The Institute plans to give guidance on the best way of treating specific conditions and of referring patients to hospital where that is necessary.