STRUCTURE: Doctors at a Nottinghamshire GP practice have warned they are being “pushed beyond the point of safety” to save money for their clinical commissioning group.

In a letter sent to patients of Park House Medical Centre, in Nottingham, GP Ian Campbell claims the practice has been “compelled” to reduce referrals to specialists in hospital, reduce A&E attendances, and reduce hospital admissions.

The former Labour Party parliamentary candidate claims the moves have been demanded to help Nottingham North and East Clinical Commissioning Group tackle a £4m overspend.

In the letter, obtained by Health Service Journal, Dr Campbell writes: “We have been told that we, at Park House, along with many other practices in Nottinghamshire, have to reduce costs immediately.

“You may no longer be entitled to a hospital doctor’s opinion even if you, and we, think it appropriate. You may no longer be entitled to your operation if it is deemed to be an unnecessary expense.

“Delaying or avoiding hospital investigations will inevitably put our patients at greater risk. As doctors and nurses we believe we are being pushed beyond the point of safety. In other words, we are being asked to take risks with your health in order to save money.”

Dr Campbell claims the CCG will scrutinise all future hospital referrals and could reject those it deems unnecessary arguing: “Control of clinical care is being removed from us.”

He called on patients to write to their local MP over the issue.

A spokesman for the CCG said: “We need to achieve savings of just over three per cent next year, which approximates to £4m.

“One of the challenges faced nationally is that of reducing the number of referrals to hospital. For GPs, in the vast majority of situations it is clear cut as to whether a patient needs to go to the hospital or not but there is a grey area where some GPs will refer and others would keep the case in the community.

“The GP practices that form the CCG are therefore working together, as clinicians, to discuss, above all, how best to ensure the safety and wellbeing of patients when addressing this particular challenge.”