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Patients refer themselves for NHS treatment. Is this real change or lipstick on a pig?

Posted Jan 22 2009 6:38pm

""(DH) Patients to refer themselves for NHS treatment

Health Secretary give go ahead to roll out of self-referral schemes for allied health services. Health Secretary Alan Johnson said: "I am giving the green light to physiotherapists, podiatrists and all Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) that they can accept patients who self refer. This offer maximises the potential of AHPs as autonomous Practitioners."

There are over 76,000 AHPs. The professions are art therapists, drama therapists, music therapists, chiropodists/podiatrists, dietitians, occupational therapists, orthoptists, orthotists and prosthetists, paramedics, physiotherapists, diagnostic radiographers, therapeutic radiographers and speech and language therapists ""

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It is difficult to know whether Alan Johnson is playing lip service to patient based services or whether the NHS could truly become patient centred. A significant proportion of the people I see, would benefit from open access to physiotherapy and allied health services.

But I want him to take this further. I want open access to all doctors, specialists, and investigations. In short to anyone who offers a reasonable service that benefits a person's health.

Payment for these services won't be about meeting targets. Payment for service depends on the provider showing they have benefitted the individual by providing a service. For example, if my treatment doesn't work, I don't get paid. If I damage someone, I am insured and I pay damages, and only when I improve their life can I claim a reward. Doctors and others will have to make sure they leave a person in a better state than they found them

Doctors' salaries are regularly over £100,000 a year. A well organised GP Principal can double that as can a consultant with private practice. But it becomes harder to justify if the people would rather go straight for treatment. How many people with a mental health problem/ stress want to start with drugs from their GP rather than talking treatments? How many people with backpain want to start with painkillers rather than physiotherapy? How many people with indigestion don't secretly know it comes down to what they eat and drink?

Treatment should be like make-up. If it doesn't make you look or feel better, then you probably shouldn't wear it or take it. And for the most part, the people on the receiving end are best placed to decide which it is.

Now for the annual 9o million pound question : Is this putting lipstick on a pig or a real shift towards a patient based service?

Copyright (c) Dr. Liz Miller
http://www.drlizmiller.co.uk




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