I am a GP in Tower Hamlets. I have a number of concerns about the Health & Social Care Bill, but have been focusing on one rather neglected one: the policy to abolish practice boundaries and allow people in England to register with the GP practice of their choice anywhere in England. All three major parties support this policy, in one form or another. At first glance, this seems like a good idea, who would not like to have greater choice? But there really are a great number of practical problems which will make it unworkable.
When my wife and I were interviewed in 1991 to take over a practice that had become vacant, we were asked what we were going to do about the ‘outliers’ on the list. At that time it was regarded as bad practice to have people living at a distance from the practice, and good practice to have a practice population which was close to the practice. In 20 years of practice, in a myriad of ways and on a daily basis, I have seen the difficulties that occur when patients move away and continue to use us as their GPs. Managing people’s healthcare when they live at a distance is more difficult for the practice, more difficult for the patient, and leads to situations that are sometimes unsafe. I am bewildered when I hear politicians and DH people say that practice boundaries are ‘outmoded’, ‘old fashioned’, ‘anachronistic’.
I tried to raise my concerns with Andrew Lansley in March 2010; for my email exchange http://bit.ly/f4iTA1
If you want to find out why this policy is problematic, go to www.onegpprotest.org and follow the links for politicians.
I am aware that there is a convention that MPs only deal with correspondence from their constituents. I am not expecting a response. Consider me a lobbyist. An unpaid lobbyist. Why am I spending all this time writing to MPs and others? Because I think the good quality British general practice is a treasure, and this policy will undermine general practice. It may even be a sinister covert move to privatisation. For the reasoning behind this comment, http://bit.ly/jCHp2k & http://bit.ly/ePWSQ8
I don’t harbour illusions about my efforts, but I feel we have to speak up, at least I will be able to say that I tried.