Patient boundaries to be scrapped but lists could still be closed

Practice boundaries will be scrapped from autumn 2010, health secretary Andy Burnham announced this morning

Andy Burnham
Andy Burnham

The move will mean that patients in England will be able to choose which of the country's 8,000 practices they would like to register with.

The new rules would mean that patients could choose to register with a practice near their place of work, rather than only those near their home address.

Mr Burnham, speaking at The King's Fund in London this morning, also addressed concerns about the privatisation of the health service, saying that 'the NHS is our preferred bidder.' He said that services should only be put out to tender if providers were failing repeatedly -signalling a retreat from the full-on marketisation of the NHS seen throughout the past two years.

The health secretary also said he hoped patient experience would play a bigger role in the NHS, informing revalidation of GPs, and becoming more widespread in hospitals.   

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said he was open to discussing practice boundaries as long as certain 'logistical barriers' could be overcome.

The change to patient boundaries will complicate home visits, out-of-hours and practice funding arrangements. This change could complicate practice funding further.

'Home visits with a GP a long way away would become difficult, and costly for the NHS to fund,' said Dr Buckman.

It is expected that practices would still be allowed to close their lists under the new rules.

The King's Fund's chief economist, John Appleby, said Mr Burnham's new policies failed to address the 'huge gaps' in funding predicted over the next decade. 'GP choice is important. But there are bigger issues out there,' he said.


  • Is the DoH right to scrap practice boundaries?


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