Doctors are being told not to refer people with heart problems to West Herts Trust hospitals as health bosses battle to deal with a backlog of patients.
Letters sent to GP practices by the Herts Valleys Care Quality Commission (HVCCG), which oversees healthcare in the region, have asked GPs not to refer patients to the hospital trust until November.
Urgent referrals are being made as normal but other patients – across rheumatology, ophthalmology, ear, nose and throat, general surgery, cardiology, urology, pain and trauma – are being sent to other NHS providers.
“This is an outrageous situation,” said Garrick Stevens, Lib Dem councillor and former Mayor of Berkhamsted.
“It calls into question the willingness and ability of the HVCCG to impartially commission health services on behalf of the public.
“This major disruption to the GP and patient choice of acute services in West Herts raises serious questions on where the HVCCG’s priorities actually lie.”
The letters, sent out on August 2, explain that the trust is not hitting targets when it comes to waiting times between referral and treatment.
A HVCCG spokesman said: “To minimise waiting times for patients we have advised GPs they can suggest alternative non-urgent referrals to their patients away from West Herts for a short period of time to allow the trust to clear the backlog of patients waiting.”
A spokesman for the trust said: “We are working positively and in partnership with the CCG and other health providers to give the best care we can to our patients and in the most timely way possible.
“We have made significant improvements across a wide range of services over the last 18 months and we will continue to do everything we can to ensure that we deliver our vision: the very best care for every patient, every day.”