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NHS could save millions of pounds if general surgery procedures were improved, says report

Would implementing the recommended changes save money and improve patient outcomes?

The Getting It Right First Time programme (GIRFT) has said the introduction of consultant-led surgical assessments ‘at the front door’ could reduce unnecessary hospital admissions by 30% a year and save the NHS around £108m a year.

The GIRFT report, by colorectal surgeon John Abercrombie, recommended a raft of changes to general surgery, including more day surgery for some procedures to reduce complications of long-term hospital stays and readmissions. Better use of data to reduce variation between trusts and increased use of perioperative medicine for ‘reversible risk factors’ prior to non-urgent procedures were also recommended.

The report found a ‘staggering’ variation in procurement of surgical equipment. It also found patients with the same condition treated differently by different surgeons.

However, Mr Abercrombie said NHS cancer targets were politically derived and not clinically driven; they looked at how quickly patients were treated instead of at which treatments were successful and could reduce patient care and outcomes.

The report recommended clinical commissioning groups should follow National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines on bariatric surgery, which would mean more operations taking place. The Royal College of Surgeons supported this proposal while NHS England said the financial implications of this must be considered.