PERFORMANCE: Basildon and Thurrock Foundation Trust has been asked by the primary care trust to delay non-urgent first appointments until 14 weeks after GP referral.

A “referral gateway” involves “hold[ing] referrals and postponing booking appointments”, according to the trust’s board papers.

The minutes of the trust’s January board meeting said that chair Michael Large had “discussed with NHS South West Essex (PCT) the referral gateway introduced as part of the PCT Turnaround plan”.

It added: ““It was recognised that this delay was not related to the availability of services at the Trust, and concern was expressed at the impact this action could have for patients.

“The Trust would still be expected to see and treat patients within four weeks to maintain the 18-week standard. The Board was advised that urgent referrals were not delayed as part of this plan, however some patients referred through non urgent routes would have a diagnosis of Cancer. There was concern that the delay in referral could have a detrimental impact on outcomes.”