GPC publishes roadmap for practice boundary reform

The GPC has published a roadmap for reforming practice boundaries in England in a way it believes will cause less disruption than current DoH plans.

The GPC's plans to reform practice boundaries is designed to boost access and patient choice
The GPC's plans to reform practice boundaries is designed to boost access and patient choice

The report proposes an overhaul of temporary resident arrangements to enable patients to ‘seek the full range of GP services on an immediate basis when they are away from their registered practice more effectively than at present'.

Under the plans, GPs would offer to treat all unregistered patients on an ad hoc basis as well as a temporarily resident one, with a 'payment by results' funding mechanism to ensure practices are rewarded for each episode of care.

A series of local solutions would also boost access, such as making boundaries more ‘fuzzy' and using technology to provide remote consultations.

Health secretary Andy Burnham announced plans to scrap practice boundaries to boost patient choice and access to GPs last year. The Conservatives have mooted similar plans.

But the GPC report warns: ‘If practice boundaries were to be abolished or relaxed, politicians would have to find ways to tackle the potential consequences of... home visiting arrangements, patient funding, health inequalities, premises and other elements.'

The report suggests scrapping practice boundaries would require ‘significant reform' of the GMS contract, and pose ‘considerable logistical difficulties for IT in practices', particularly in relation to the QOF.

A DoH spokesperson said it was exploring how it can best allow patients to register with a GP practice of their choice, and that the DoH will be launching a wider consultation shortly.

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