Labour candidate says Northamptonshire NHS has “Dragon’s Den-style approach” to approving surgery

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About a quarter of applications to Northamptonshire NHS bosses for certain types of planned surgery have been rejected in the last three months, a prospective Labour MP has claimed.

The claims are based on figures come from the first three months of a Northamptonshire scheme where a panel of NHS Nene doctors decide whether patients will derive significant benefit from each elective operations in certain categories.

Richard Garvie, the Labour Party Parliamentary Candidate in Wellingborough & Rushden, who made a freedom of information request for the information, said: “I’m worried that this new ‘Dragon’s Den’ style approach to approving elective surgery requests is financially-driven, and patients are now losing out due to an expensive reorganisation and part privatisation of our health service.”

The new Prior Approval Team decide on a case-by-case basis which patients can have several procedures including tonsils removal, carpal tunnel decompression, dupuytrens contracture surgery, ganglion and mucoid Cyst, grommets in children, some hip and knee replacements, male circumcision as well as nose surgery.

The total number of prior approval requests for the above procedures was; December 72, January 233, February 156.

The total number of requests granted for referral to hospital was: December 58, January 177, February


The total number of requests declined; December 14, January 56, February 33.

However NHS Nene claimed in its reply to Mr Garvie that, although the number of elective surgery procedures applied for is measured by the number of prior approval requests, “there is not a direct correlation to the number of procedures turned down.”

In a further explanation of its reasons it claimed that the number of refusals had not significantly changed because of the new process.

It added: “Based on historical information up to a third of all requests do not become an elective surgery procedure for a number of reasons.”

It added: “The prior approval requests are clinically reviewed and those which to do not meet criteria within the existing Nene & Corby CCG Prior Approval policies are declined.

“This is no different from before the change in process, however now the hospitals can be sure that patients referred to them meet the criteria.

“Any patients who are declined are referred back to their GP who will work with the patient to look at alternative treatment.”