GPs 'will reject practice boundary abolition pilots'

Pilot schemes to test plans for scrapping practice boundaries will struggle to recruit practices, GP leaders have warned.

Andrew Lansley: despite opposition, the health secretary's pilot scheme is scheduled to begin in April
Andrew Lansley: despite opposition, the health secretary's pilot scheme is scheduled to begin in April

The government announced last month that pilots would begin in April in London, Manchester and Nottingham under a deal struck in contract negotiations with the GPC.

The pilots will allow patients who live outside these cities to register and have consultations with participating practices near their place of work.

The DH said the pilot schemes would run for a year and practices will be taking part on a voluntary basis only.

The three areas have been chosen because high numbers of commuters travel into them each day, the DH said.

Funding to pay for patients who use practices on a consultation-only basis will be capped at £2m, although the DH did not say who would foot the bill once this funding has run out.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said the pilot will allow patients to access care in a place and at a time that suits them.

But Manchester LMC secretary Dr John Hughes said he ‘seriously doubts’ many practices will sign up.

He said city centre practices ‘may be interested’ but across Manchester as a whole it would only be a minority that apply.

Dr Hughes also cast doubt on whether the appropriate IT systems were in place to support the pilot, including how practices will share patient records.

He said: ‘It’s an issue about software and whether this can be developed in time to cater for the new breed of patients.

‘I suspect the funding will run out before the infrastructure is up and running. It’s another bright idea without the bones.’

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