Health Insurance Fund Considers Making Referrals Mandatory for All Specialists ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

The Health Insurance Fund plans to make referrals from GPs mandatory for all medical specialties in a bid to improve availability of health care, ERR radio reported.

"Family doctors are able in many cases to advise patients without them having to seek out a specialist. People can get assistance faster and at the same time, the only people who go to specialists are those whose complaints can't be resolved by family doctors," said Health Insurance Fund board member Mari Mathiesen.

Currently ophthalmologists, gynaecologists, dermatologists and venereologists and pulmonologists do not require referrals.

Some specialists are not sold on the plan, and say the change - which wouldn't take effect before 2016 - shouldn't be rushed.

"In such a case, the GOP has to address basic gynecological problems, which would be conceivable in countries with an historically strong first-tier system, such as Great Britain. Family doctors have to be prepared to perform a gynaecological exam, but that requires equipment, furniture and skills," said Made Laanpere, head of the Gynecological Association.

She warned against the first tier medical care becoming just a place to get a referral.

The president of the General Practitioners Association Diana Ingerainen said: "We expressed our indignation that you shouldn't have to get a referral for the sake of referral."