The Royal College of Physicians' (RCP's) Referring wisely report aims to start a conversation between physicians about the referral processes they use each day and seeks to aid the streamlining of such processes in the long term.
It is often the case that patients are seen by many different clinicians during their time in hospital and there is a great deal of variability in the pattern of referrals between both generalist and specialist physicians. This is due in part to variation in service, but also to the fact that there is no clear consensus on which conditions lie under the generalist and which would benefit from specialist input.
Referring wisely provides a framework for both generalist and specialist physicians to use in their day-to-day work, to guide and rationalise their approach and treatment. In an underdoctored, overstretched NHS where workload pressures are increasing, streamlining referral patterns can be seen to both help to ease the workload for physicians whilst also preventing fragmented care for the patient.
Discussing the report, RCP registrar Dr Andrew Goddard said:
We know that streamlining referral processes is of benefit to both patients and doctors, and in the long term allows for more productive use of NHS resources. The aim of this report is to promote conversation between physicians regarding common referral patterns – with the result of improving the overall patient experience.
It is clear that we as physicians and the patients we treat will benefit from referring wisely.