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Cumbrian doctors 'bribed' to slash heart operation referrals

April 17, 2017 2:00 PM

Doctors in Cumbria are being given financial incentives to slash the number of referrals for heart operations and scans, it has been revealed today. South Cumbrian MP Tim Farron slammed the system, saying the payments look like a "bribe" and that the needs of patients must take priority.

Figures uncovered by the Daily Mail reveal that family doctors are being offered financial incentives to reduce the number of patients they send to hospitals. Across the country, it is largely non-urgent referrals such as hip and knee replacements that are included in the scheme. However, Cumbria is one of just two areas in the country where GPs are being paid to reduce the number of referrals for heart operations and scans.

Nationally, the government paid out at least £5.74million in financial incentives to curb referrals, thought the true figure is likely to be significantly higher.

Tim said: "We knew that the NHS was critically underfunded but now we learn that doctors are deliberately not referring people, and denying them the treatment they need, simply to save money. It looks like a bribe.

"The winter crisis in our NHS might be drawing to a close, but this shows that the problems are set to continue. This shows that the Conservative government values saving money over patient health.

"The Conservatives must recognise that our local NHS is being starved of funds and provide an urgent cash injection so that doctors can focus on the needs of patients not their bottom line."