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NHS to consult on restricting 17 'risky and ineffectual' procedures

30/06/2018

NHS England is poised to launch a public consultation on cost-cutting plans to strictly limit patient access to 17 'risky' or 'ineffectual' procedures on the NHS.

The restricted list includes breast reductions, surgery for snoring and for back pain and is the first of its kind to be created at a national level.

Some treatments will continue to be offered in specific circumstances after other cheaper and less invasive approaches have been tried.

Treatments will be offered only if judged to be of ‘compelling benefit’, where there are no alternatives or patients are at risk of ‘serious harm’ from their condition.

NHS England is working on the list with the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and intends to consult on the proposals from 4 July to 28 September with changes expected to start in 2019-20.

Steve Powis, medical director of NHS England, told The Times newspaper this week that the list was ‘only the first stage’ and more procedures would be added in the future.

Future restrictions could potentially include general anaesthetics for hip and shoulder dislocations and brain scans for patients with migraines.

In a statement, NHS England said: ‘Patients would be spared more than 100,000 unnecessary procedures a year, freeing up an estimated £200m that can be spent on more effective treatments.’

Surgery for snoring, dilatation and curettage (D&Cs) for heavy menstrual bleeding, knee arthroscopies for osteoarthritis and injections for non-specific back pain will only be offered if a patient makes an individual request.

A further 13 procedures will only be offered when specific criteria are met. These include:

  • Breast reduction
  • Removal of benign skin lesions
  • Grommets for Glue Ear
  • Tonsillectomy for sore throats
  • Haemorrhoid surgery
  • Hysterectomy for heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Chalazia (lesions on eyelids) removal
  • Removal of bone spurs for shoulder pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome release
  • Dupuytren's contracture release for tightening of fingers
  • Ganglion excision - removal of noncancerous lumps on the wrist or hand
  • Trigger finger release
  • Varicose vein surgery

Healthwatch City of London will share information on the consultation when it is launched.

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