Ministers are 'playing politics' over boundaries

GP leaders have accused the government of playing politics in its ambition to scrap practice boundaries.

Mr Burham: abolish all practice boundaries by autumn 2010
Mr Burham: abolish all practice boundaries by autumn 2010

In a speech last month health secretary Andy Burnham announced the government's intention to abolish all practice boundaries by autumn 2010.

'In this day and age, I can see no reason why patients should not be able to choose the GP practice they want,' he told the King's Fund.

But since then the government has made no move to contact the GPC to discuss the measures necessary to put such a policy into practice.

'Beyond the headlines, the DoH has produced no information about how this will work,' said Dr Chaand Nagpaul.

The issue is currently under discussion in all sub-committees of the GPC. But GPs warn that scrapping boundaries would open 'a Pandora's box of very complicated issues'.

PCT funding, for example, is based on population, raising questions about how money should be distributed if patients register with practices outside their PCT.

Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the GPC, warned that this issue had 'run into the ground several times before because of the operational difficulty and cost'.

The DoH said that it would be working closely with GPs 'over the next few months', and would set out its plans shortly.

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