Referral ‘management’ costly option

In some areas of England, referral management centres assess the appropriateness of the GPs’ referrals. A retrospective study in Norfolk analysed the effectiveness of these schemes, looking at 85 general practices with 714,000 patients.

The practices were in five groups: three groups dealt with referral management centres while the other two used internal peer review of referrals.

Despite the introduction of referral management, in four there was a statistically significant increase in outpatient attendances in four groups. Compared to the rest of England, the introduction of referral management was