PCTs miss deadline for agreeing outer boundaries

Some PCTs have missed the 1 July deadline to agree an outer boundary with practices as it is a 'low priority'.

Dr Vautrey: ‘I would imagine we'll get feedback from LMCs over the coming weeks'
Dr Vautrey: ‘I would imagine we'll get feedback from LMCs over the coming weeks'

The DH set a 1 July deadline for English practices to agree 'outer boundaries' within which they will continue to see patients who move outside their normal catchment area.

But the GPC has said that the scheme is a low priority for PCTs as they have minimum staffing levels and a multitude of tasks to complete before they are abolished next April.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘PCTs are taking different approaches to this, but with everything else they are having to do I think this is low on their priority list. 

‘I don't know what the national picture looks like with any degree of accuracy, although I would imagine we'll get feedback from LMCs over the coming weeks.’

This comes after a GP poll revealed in May that only 10% of GPs had agreed an outer boundary.

In the 2012/13 GP contract, the GPC and DH agreed that practices would agree an outer boundary with their PCT. If a patient moved into it, where 'clinically possible' they would stay on the practice list.

Medical director at Londonwide LMCs Dr Tony Grewal said some PCTs had set different deadlines for agreeing outer boundaries.

He said: ‘Most don’t seem to be pushing for it. It is a fairly low priority. There was an initial flurry of activity and then we haven’t heard much more. I suspect that the PCTs are so inundated with jobs to do that they don’t see this as a priority. The PCT required practices to do it using Google maps rather than on pen and paper which we challenged.’

Executive vice chairman of Devon LMC Dr Andrew Sant said there had been confusion about whether it is compulsory for all practices to agree an outer boundary.

DH guidance makes clear that in exceptional circumstances, 'where a GP practice already has a large boundary area, it may not be appropriate for such a practice to establish an outer boundary area'.

Dr Sant said: ‘The LMC was contacted by one practice out of its 170 practices. It was a Newton Abbott practice and they had a large geographical area with lots of patients and now they don’t have to have an outer boundary.’

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