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Self-Referrals: NHS expands access to community nursing and key services for 180K more patients


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According to NHS, 200,000 patients a month already self-refer themselves for treatment for podiatry, audiology, and physiotherapy

National Health Services (NHS) patients across England are set to experience a significant enhancement in accessing key healthcare services such as community nursing through the expansion of self-referral options that no longer require a GP appointment.

The recent announcement is part of the NHS primary care access recovery plan and is set to offer hundreds of thousands more individuals each month the opportunity to refer themselves for essential services such as “incontinence support”, “podiatry”, or “hearing tests” without GP referrals.

This move aims to alleviate the burden on general practitioners through self-referrals for more than 180,000 patients, allowing them to focus their time and resources on patients in need of immediate care and recover the long waiting times.

As per the NHS data, approximately 200,000 people per month self-refer themselves which under the new plan will extend to additional critical services tailored to local population needs to “continue modernising GP, expand pharmacy services, and offer patients more choice in how they access care”.

As of February 2024, GP teams have delivered over 30 million appointments, a nearly 25 per cent increase. 

Dr. Amanda Doyle, national director for Primary Care, NHS England, emphasized on the success of recent initiatives, including the ability for patients to order repeat prescriptions and book appointments through the NHS App.

She said, “we are expanding the offers in our primary access recovery plan including increasing the number of people who can self-refer for common services without a GP referral – not only is this good news for patients but it will also free up family doctors who are already delivering millions more appointments a month than before the pandemic.”

Moreover, Primary Care Minister Andrea Leadsom echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the government’s commitment to enhancing access to GP services.

Self-referral, she noted, not only offers patients greater choice but also frees up GP appointments, making access to care faster and more equitable for all.

The expansion of the primary care workforce, with 36,000 staff employed since 2019 and plans to increase the number of GPs in training by 500 by 2025/26, reflects a concerted effort to meet the growing demand for primary care services.


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