Professor Steve Field praised the proposed NHS constitution for clarifying that patients have the responsibility to keep appointments and to register with a GP.
But he accepted that patients in some areas were prevented from doing so by practices that officially keep their lists open while refusing to accept new patients.
'This is something we need to address. If we want to be at the centre of NHS care in this country, we need to rise to that challenge,' he said.
Professor Field was speaking after the last meeting of the constitutional advisory board, in which NHS grandees proposed changes to the draft constitution. He said that his conversations with health secretary Alan Johnson suggested he had more enthusiasm for general practice than was often apparent.
'He understands the patient's need to be anchored with a GP, and the GP's role as a navigator,' Professor Field said.
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