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Self-referral to get green light

Patients should be able to bypass a visit to the doctor and refer themselves for treatment with physiotherapists, speech therapists and dietitians, the Health Secretary is to announce.

At the Chief Health Professions Officer's conference in London, Alan Johnson will give the green light for physiotherapists, podiatrists and all allied health professionals (AHPs) to accept patients who self-refer.

He will say that self-referral offers more flexibility for patients, quicker treatment and less time off work:

"Self-referral will help both vulnerable members of society and those with busy lives by providing quicker access without the unnecessary hoop jumping of going to see a doctor first."

AHPs include physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, dietitians and podiatrists, who treat problems with the feet and lower legs.

Measures to help the introduction of self-referral services will be announced next month. However, the implementation will be down to individual PCTs.

The Department of Health said research carried out with the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy showed that patients who self-refer not only access services more quickly, but are also more likely to complete their treatment.

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Department of Health

Do you agree with Alan Johnson's recommendations for self-referral? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"No I don't, it's just another attempt by the government to provide the feel-good factor to the public. There is not unlimited money in the coffers, so spend it wisely." - Name and address supplied

"Yes, I do. I think it is about time, as it is too lengthy having to make an appointment with the doctor and a waste of the appointment at the surgery." - Name and address supplied

"I think on paper it's a good idea, but in reality these AHPs are busy anyway, and there will be a long waiting list to be seen. I can't see it working." - Name and address supplied