PERFORMANCE: The medical directors of NHS South West London have asked GPs in the cluster not to refer some patients to St George’s Healthcare Trust because of a waiting times backlog.

A letter to GPs leaked to HSJ said the trust had breached the 18-week referral to treatment time target in some specialties and provided a list of alternative providers to refer to.

The letter said the cluster was asking GPs to refer to other places until January 2013 in five specialties to let the waiting lists return to “a sustainable basis”.

The specialties are Upper GI surgery, bariatric surgery, spinal surgery, ENT and gynaecology.

It said: “The problems date back to the introduction of a new patient reporting system at the trust which caused prolonged disruption to waiting list managament.”

It added: “The difficulties are compoundded because the hospital is busy (major trauma centre, hyper acutestroke unit, sector hub for several specialties) and populat with patients and GPs.”

The alternatives suggested included Croydon Health Services Trust, west Middlesex University Hospital Trust, Kingston Hospital Trust and private facilities including BMI.