Practice Boundaries Debate: fallen on deaf ears?

Amid the latest news from the new coalition government, has been the revelation that GP boundaries will indeed be abolished.  Despite the ongoing consultation project, “Your Choice of GP Practice“, and the apparent extension of the deadline for feedback to 2nd July, it seems that the decision on this policy has already been taken.

Concern has been expressed particularly with regard to small and rural practices, who face extremely tough decisions if their commuter patients who have opted to switch to a practice closer to their work, require care when they are at home.  Money follows patient registrations, and it may no longer be possible for some rural practices to continue if they were to see their commuter patients transfer to other surgeries.

There is of course the real need to open up the options, as some commuting patients would certainly achieve more convenient service from GP surgeries closer to their place of employment.  However it seems that open discussion of these options is no longer going to be possible, with the government already committed to making this change.

Today Dr Malcolm Ward, Chair of the RCGP Rural Forum commented: “Surely there has been some kind of mistake in the rush to resolve the budget deficit.  The previous government’s deadline for responses to the consultation “Your choice of GP practice” was 28.5.10.  It makes no sense for the incoming Government to pre-empt that consultation process by making this premature announcement.”

“The abolition of practice boundaries was neither sought by patients nor by the profession and would result in a significant increase in Department of Health spending for a policy that would almost certainly fragment the future provision of high quality primary care.”

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