DoH plans rapid transfer of patients between GPs

The DoH has warned PCTs in England to brace themselves for the possibility of a mass migration of patients when the results of its controversial access survey are published this month.

GPC chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum
GPC chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum

PCTs have been told to be ready to allow patients to switch practices quickly by developing rapid records-transfer systems.

PCTs are also advised to consider setting up a walk-in centre if necessary to meet patients' demand for out-of-hours healthcare.

PCTs need to be ready to facilitate 'patients wanting to change registration to practices with higher satisfaction rates', the DoH has warned in its GP patient survey guidance.

The DoH has also warned PCTs to expect a media backlash and advised them to have a communications plan in place.

The survey, sharply criticised by the GPC for including 'leading questions' that clashed with the GMS contract, achieved a 40 per cent response rate (Access survey dubbed 'misleading' - GP, 1 December 2006).

GPC chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said: 'The questions are biased in such a way that the results are not meaningful.

'We don't think that they will be a fair reflection of the services practices provide. I hope people won't be tempted to switch practices on the basis of this. They may be basing decisions on false assumptions and dubious evidence.'

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prisca.middlesmiss@haymarket.com and nick.bostock@haymarket.com

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