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Painful waits as NHS rationing deepens

How much rationing is too much rationing?

Doctors are increasingly needing to beg for treatments, including hip and knee replacements, cataract removals, and for mental health interventions, the British Medical Journal has found.

The BMJ used freedom of information requests to collect data about exceptional funding requests and discovered that GPs are having to make more of them. Since the 2000s, GPs, consultants and health professionals have been making individual funding requests (IFRs) to clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to ensure patients get treatments that are not routinely funded in their areas.

In 2013/14 there were 50,200 funding requests. In the past year, there were 73,900, which is a rise of 47%. Data shows that 52% of the requests were granted.

The majority of funding requests are for cosmetic and fertility treatments. However, the BMJ study found that in some areas referrals for hip and knee surgery must be examined by an individual funding request panel. The delay and uncertainty this causes leaves patients in pain. The study also observed other regional differences: Rushcliffe CCG received no IFRs last year, which Chiltern CCG received 3,800.

Further information

BMJExceptional requests for care surge as rationing deepens

BMJPressure on NHS finances drives new wave of postcode rationing

GuardianDoctors forced to plead with NHS for treatments for patients, BMJ finds

BBC News: NHS ‘rationing leaves patients in pain’