An MP is demanding answers from an NHS group accused of putting cash incentives above patient welfare.

Bambos Charalambous, MP for Enfield Southgate, said he was “utterly shocked” to discover NHS Enfield Clinical Commissioning Group included on a list of health authorities taking part in the “cash for cuts” practice.

The scheme sees GPs – including those in Enfield - stand to profit each time they do not refer a patient to a hospital specialist in a bid to ease the massive NHS pressures.

The cash saved is then put back into the practice and the local CCG.

Mr Charalambos said: “This is really serious. It’s potentially disastrous for GPs to get incentives not to refer patients to hospitals. There are certain medical conditions that, if left and not referred, could have life changing consequences. It is completely against what the NHS stands for. Not only that, but it goes against the Hippocratic Oath to put the care of the patient first.

“I am seeking an urgent meeting with the CCG to ask them to stop.”

But an NHS Enfield CCG spokeswoman said it wasn’t as clear cut as it appeared.

She said: “NHS Enfield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) uses a locality commissioning scheme to ensure all referrals from primary care to secondary care are quality assured and clinically appropriate.

“Our member GP practices are working together and sharing their expertise to reduce unnecessary referrals to outpatients and A&E so that patients can be seen and treated more quickly in a primary care or community setting if clinically appropriate.

“We would like to reassure Enfield residents that the aim of the scheme is not to stop or restrict GPs from making appropriate referrals to secondary care for their patients, but to encourage GP practices to identify areas where patient care can be improved, especially in terms of waiting times and access.

“Any savings achieved through the scheme are shared 50/50 between GP practices and the CCG. GP practices are required to reinvest savings in areas which directly support improvements in patient care and patient experience.”