General practitioners make over 9 million referrals each year, triggering many billions of pounds of expenditure. There is also significant variation in the quality and rate of referral between GPs and GP practices. As the NHS faces a prospective funding gap of £14–£20 billion and GPs take the lead for commissioning services, it is the perfect time to examine whether referral management in its many forms will help GP commissioners deliver savings and improve care.
Referral management: Lessons for success provides practical advice to those seeking to influence the content and pattern of GP referrals. It draws on the current literature and new qualitative and quantitative research to evaluate the full range of referral management activities from full-scale referral management centres to the ‘passive’ provision of guidelines to GPs.