Consultants must seek approval to treat urgent cases

HOSPITAL consultants at Lister must seek approval to give urgent treatment to patients. This demand was made by the East and North Hertfordshire Primary Care Trust and the West Hertfordshire Primary Care Trust as they struggle to reduce their £48m financi

HOSPITAL consultants at Lister must seek approval to give urgent treatment to patients.

This demand was made by the East and North Hertfordshire Primary Care Trust and the West Hertfordshire Primary Care Trust as they struggle to reduce their £48m financial deficit.

A memo from the East and North Herts NHS Trust has been circulated to consultants at Lister, telling them to complete an authorisation form for every patient, including urgent cases, they want to treat before the end of the financial year.

The demand to authorise urgent cases follows the two PCTs' decision in December that routine elective patients should not be treated until the financial year 2007/08.

The memo said:"The PCTs are now insisting on confirming their agreement to treat any urgent patient we want to see before March 31.

"The PCTs are within their rights to withhold payment for any patients we treat without approval.

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"We need to be paid for the work we do so it is important that everyone complies with the process."

A spokesman for the East and North Hertfordshire PCT said: "Urgent referral requests are examined by an experienced GP, whose medical judgment will confirm the best course of treatment.

"It is our aim that all patients will continue to be seen within national waiting times and all GP and consultant referrals marked as urgent will still be seen as rapidly as possible within our new process."

A spokesman for the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust said: "Where a doctor decides that a patient's treatment is urgent, each case is reviewed quickly by its own doctors.

"To date, no patient whose care is deemed urgent has had their treatment stopped or slowed by the PCTs' new system.