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New U.K. Health Policy Frustrating for Some Patients

System may be wasting resources and underserving patients with multiple ailments

FRIDAY, March 21 (HealthDay News) -- A new system of patient referral by primary care physicians to specialists in the United Kingdom is failing patients by making it unlikely that multiple problems can be dealt with concurrently, according to an article published in the March 22 issue of BMJ.

Rahij Anwar, a specialist registrar in London, U.K., and colleagues write that since the policy has been implemented it has left patients frustrated and disappointed, particularly those with multiple health problems whose condition may be downplayed because of the cost to the primary care trust.

The authors also describe cases where patients develop new complaints between their appointment with a primary care physician and a specialist, only to be sent back to their primary care physician for a fresh referral. This not only wastes resources at the primary care level but also underserves patients, they write.

"Although proponents of the new commissioning policy leave no stone unturned in selling their ideas, they have little insight into the problems associated with the system in relation to patients with multiple disorders," the authors write. "Patients should be given sufficient time and opportunity to discuss their problems properly, so that the problems may be dealt with concurrently, not consecutively."

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