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Database launched highlighting primary care referral advice

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has launched a database of NICE guidance recommendations covering the referral of patients from primary care to secondary care.

The NICE "referral advice" recommendations database covers referral advice for patients with the range of conditions NICE has published guidance on such as suspected cancer, lower back pain and psoriasis.
Over the past few years NICE has been giving greater prominence to highlighting, through its guidance, those recommendations which direct the NHS away from less effective practice. This database highlights recommendations from NICE guidance which clearly identify where patients might benefit from secondary care or specialist services (and, by implication, those where patients would not benefit from these services).

Apart from ensuring value for money, the NHS, by following the recommendations in this database, will help improve clinical outcomes and patient experience, as well as reduce local and regional inequalities in the care offered to patients.

Professor Peter Littlejohns, NICE Clinical and Public Health Director, said: "Inappropriate referral to secondary care places a large financial burden on the NHS. Implementing NICE guidance can provide a way for GPs and commissioners to ensure that patients receive treatment that is proven to be both clinically and cost effective, including when it is appropriate to refer a patient to hospital. Following NICE guidance frees up resources and capacity that can then be channelled into other services."

He continued: "The decision to refer a patient to secondary care or specialist services is extremely important and is based on a variety of factors. The NICE 'referral advice' recommendations database is a valuable resource for those providing and commissioning care on when patients should be referred on from primary care."

The database is one of a number of initiatives from NICE focusing on helping the NHS as it faces up to arguably its greatest challenge yet - to deliver the QIPP (Quality, Improvement, Productivity and Prevention) agenda, while facing a squeeze on finances.