Bupa has now clarified the plans on moving to the open referral system on corporate PMI, where the insurer rather than the GP helps the patient choose the consultant.
Traditionally, when a GP needs to refer a Bupa customer for treatment the GP refers the customer to a hospital or consultant. An Open Referral differs in that Bupa provides a choice of “the most relevant consultant at the most convenient location.”
Where a choice of consultants exists, customers will always have a choice of consultants. But in some sub-specialities in some areas of the country there is only one consultant practising privately. In those situations, the patient has the option to travel to see a different consultant - although for rural areas the travelling distance may not always be practical.
Who is the best person to choose a consultant, is a debate that is ongoing in the NHS and in private insurance. A large part of the problem is that even where a patient may have the theoretical right to choose, whether or not they are given access to sufficient information to make an informed choice is variable.