Responding to the DoH's White Paper consultation Greater Choice and Control, the college said the policies were 'misguided' and run ‘a severe risk of destabilising the NHS in England’.
The consultation proposes that patients have more choice of where and how they receive treatment in the NHS. Practice boundaries will be removed so that patients can visit any GP and commissioners will have to consider 'any willing provider' when buying services.
RCGP chairwoman Dr Clare Gerada said patients do value choice but the proposals could severely affect continuity of care and end up costing much more than they [the DoH] have bargained for.'
The college also believes other solutions should be found to improve commuter’s access to general practice, rather than abolishing practice boundaries and 'dismantling the bedrock of the General Practice system that is underpinned by a local list’.
The RCGP's consultation response concludes: 'We are concerned that the emphasis on choice in this consultation may mislead patients – at a time of financial retrenchment, the reality is that there is likely to be far greater rationing of services, and hence, in some respects, a reduction in choice for many patients.'
The RCGP's calls echo those of the BMA, which opposes the use of 'any willing provider' and has suggested alternatives to abolishing practice boundaries altogether.