Boundary scrapping risks patient care

More than half of GPs in England believe scrapping practice boundaries will be to the detriment of patients, a GP newspaper poll reveals.

The survey, which received responses from 673 GPs in England, shows only 23 per cent of GPs believe scrapping practice boundaries will benefit patients, while 24 per cent said it would make no difference at all.

Many GPs feared scrapping practice boundaries would fragment care and produce difficulties for GPs with regard to home visiting arrangements.

One respondent said removing practice boundaries would make GPs' list sizes 'unmanageable' and visiting patients at home would become 'impossible'.

When questioned about which of the DoH's proposals from its ongoing consultation would be the best way forward, 46 per cent of respondents said Option A. This stated that patients should be allowed to register with any practice in England, but rules should be introduced to distinguish between patients who are registering locally, and patients registering further away.

Around 29 per cent of respondents said PCTs should be responsible for establishing home visiting arrangements, while the idea that practices should provide or arrange home visits for all patients on their list, regardless of where they live, was supported by 13 per cent of respondents. Dual registration was least popular.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence said: 'I'm not surprised that option A is the preferred option, it is the nearest to what we have now.'

He added: 'It needs more consideration before GPC will plump for an option. GPC will be informing government about the consequences of all the options.'

RCGP chairman Professor Steve Field said: 'There are inevitably a number of different solutions that need to be worked on, but scrapping altogether would leave some patients vulnerable.'

The DoH consultation closes next month.

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