By Charlotte Beugge ...
Bupa to stop GPs from referring patients directly to consultants
By Charlotte Beugge
The UK's largest health insurance provider Bupa is from January going to stop GPs' ability to refer more than a million patients privately to a named consultant.
According to Pulse magazine, the journal for the UK's GPs, changes to the Bupa Corporate Select policy, which covers more than one million of its customers, will take effect from January.
Instead of referring to whichever private consultant the GP suggests, they will instead have to provide insured patients seeking private treatment with an open referral for a named procedure.
Patients will then need to call Bupa to get their treatment pre-authorised and will then choose from a list of "Bupa-recognised" consultants.
The magazine quotes Dr Richard Vautrey, the deputy chair of the General Practitioners Committee (GPC), as saying: "This would strike GPs as an unusual move at a time when the Department of Health has just signalled that NHS patients should be able to choose a named consultant, something which GPC has been calling for years."
From next April, GPs will be able to help NHS patients pick a consultant for their treatment.
Dr Natalie-Jane McDonald, managing director of Bupa, told Pulse: "We are not trying to supplant the role of GPs. We are helping patients make an informed choice."