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Operation threat

Patients in Oxford who are waiting for a range of routine operations could find their surgery axed to help the NHS save money.

Oxfordshire NHS Primary Care Trust managers are looking at five treatments to decide whether to cut the number of operations they commission.

The PCT is reviewing hysterectomies, dilatation and curettage, lower back surgery, tonsillectomy and myringotomy. A similar review in 2005 saw hernia, cardiac ablations and varicose vein patients removed from waiting lists.

The PCT wants to save £18m this financial year and keep a tight rein on spending next year.

In a board report last December, Matthew Tait, director of finance and performance, said they had managed to halve the amount of hernia operations. He added: "We're looking at five further areas. Although these are unlikely to result in cost reduction this year, they will form part of our recovery plan next year."

Dr Ljuba Stirzaker, PCT public health medicine consultant and chairman of the Oxfordshire Priorities Forum, which decides which treatments should be used within the county, said: "It has been suggested that we look at these procedures to save money. I honestly don't know how much money it could save us."

In other cost-cutting moves, the PCT has issued guidelines to GPs not to prescribe more than 28 days' medication at a time in a bid to cut wastage of drugs.

Doctors say the move is inconvenient and will be expensive for patients who rely on long-term medication and will have to pay a fee for each new prescription.

Dr Stirzaker said GPs could still use their judgment on individual cases.

From the Oxford Mail -