Department of Health reply to my email to Jeremy Hunt 2/7/15 on the #gpboundaryscam

17/07/2015

I received the following from the Department of Health on 15/7/15, in reply to my email to Jeremy Hunter earlier this month:

Our ref: DE00000945045

Dear Dr Farrelly,

Thank you for your further correspondence of 2 July to Jeremy Hunt, Jane Ellison and Alistair Burt about GP services. I have been asked to reply.

I was sorry to read that you are not satisfied with the Department’s response of 29 June to your previous email (our ref: DE00000940960). I note your continuing concerns about patients registering with GPs outside of traditional practice boundaries.

As stated in my colleague’s previous reply, NHS England will continue to review this policy to ensure that it is meets the needs of the patients who are using the service and who may wish to use it. In addition, it will address the operational issues that have arisen since the introduction of the agreement to ensure that the system remains functional for GP practices.

I note that you have not yet received a response to your correspondence to NHS England, but, as it is responsible for primary care in England, I can only suggest that you continue to raise your concerns with it.

I am sorry I cannot be more directly helpful.
Yours sincerely,

[name removed]
Ministerial Correspondence and Public Enquiries
Department of Health

————————————————————————————————————————-

Please do not reply to this email. To contact the Department of Health, please visit the ‘Contact DH’ section on the GOV.UK website.

*

Of course, this is not a true reply, just another text masquerading as a reply.

Scoundrels.


The Department of Health’s response to my last email to Jeremy Hunt about #gpboundaryscam

02/07/2015

Our ref: DE00000940960

Dear Dr Farrelly,

Thank you for your further correspondence of 14 June to Jeremy Hunt, Jane Ellison and Alistair Burt about GP services. I have been asked to reply.

I appreciate your ongoing concerns. As you know, the GP contract agreement for 2014/15 allows GP practices to register new patients from outside their traditional boundary areas without a duty to provide home visits for such patients, as they previously had to.

This arrangement is designed to make the system more flexible and give patients greater freedom in choosing a suitable GP practice – for example, commuters may wish to register with a practice close to their workplace, as opposed to where they live, and people who move house may wish to continue to attend their existing practice.

The agreement was introduced in January and there are currently over 14,000 patients registered with practices away from their home since. All NHS England regional teams have arrangements in place to ensure that those patients are able to access services should they require primary medical care whilst at home.

Those arrangements vary across the country. Many regions commission the national enhanced service model, while some use the local out-of-hours services, and others commission a range of services. However, all have ensured that, should the patients registered in their area require care, they are able to provide it.

To date, NHS England has received no patient complaints or concerns about this matter through its customer contact centre or operational teams in the regions. However, it is aware of some concerns from GP practices about registration and operational issues that it has worked with them to resolve.

NHS England will continue to review this policy to ensure that it is meets the needs of the patients who are using the service and who may wish to use it. In addition, it will address the operational issues that have arisen since the introduction of the agreement to ensure that the system remains functional for GP practices.

I am sorry I cannot be more directly helpful.

Yours sincerely,

[name removed to protect the innocent]

Ministerial Correspondence and Public Enquiries
Department of Health

Please do not reply to this email

*

For my next email to Jeremy Hunt and comments on this response

 


I complained to Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman about DoH non-replies to my concerns; they are legally not allowed to investigate

25/05/2015

In September 2013 I sent Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, an email pointing out the problems inherent in the Coalition Government’s flagship policy to make it possible for patients to register at any practice they wished in England. I received a non-reply from the Department of Health. So I wrote again and received a similar response. So I wrote again and received a reply saying they had nothing to add to the previous emails and that unless I had something new to ask they would not reply to any further emails. For links to the emails and non-replies, click here.

So I sent a complaint to the Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman; in its essentials, my complaint was that Jeremy Hunt and the Department of Health had failed to address the issues I raised and respond to each of the issues raised.. I sent ample documentation to demonstrate the problem.

This is the Ombudsman’s reply:

Ombudsman Reply 1 PNG

Ombudsman Reply 2 PNG

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Department of Health’s ‘reply’ to my email to Jeremy Hunt

25/05/2015

In mid-February 2015 I emailed Jeremy Hunt raising concerns about the policy allowing patients to be registered with participating GP practices even though they live outside the practice area. The policy was implemented on 5/1/15. It is a deeply flawed policy which sounds good on paper (unless you understand how general practice works), but when transferred into the real world is a mess. (It is as though someone asked an architect to actually build a building according to an Escher lithograph).

Just one of the problems in the real world is to provide cover for patients who get sick at home and cannot travel to see their registered GP. (A patient registered with a local GP would walk to their GP or, if unable to leave their home, be visited by their GP). So NHS England area teams were given the Herculean task of organising this cover. The October 2014 launch of the policy was put forward to 5/1/15 because they had not yet put in place the infrastructure for this cover. What I discovered in January 2015 was that there was still not blanket cover across England; in fact in London there was effectively no cover. So the situation was unsafe for London patients registering with a practice at a distance from their home.

This is the reply I received from the Department of Health:

Our ref: DE00000920945

Dear Dr Farrelly,

Thank you for your correspondence of 15 February to Jeremy Hunt and Norman Lamb about GP practice boundaries. I have been asked to reply.

As you are aware, the GP contract agreement for 2014/15 brought in a measure allowing GP practices to register new patients from outside their traditional boundary areas without a duty to provide home visits for such patients, as they previously had to do.

With this change, provisions such as home visits need to be in place for patients should they need urgent care at or close to home and cannot attend the practice they are registered with. NHS England is responsible for making sure this happens. Its area teams are currently working with GPs and the NHS 111 service to make sure these services can be provided.

As you are aware, it was originally planned that the measure would come into effect from October. However, in order to allow its area teams more time to put services in place, NHS England took the decision to put the date back to 5 January. It believes that this decision was in the best interests of GP practices and patients.

I note that you have written to NHS England directly about your concerns. I hope that you receive a response soon.

Whilst I appreciate that this may be a disappointing reply, I hope it clarifies the situation.

Yours sincerely,

[I have removed the name to protect the innocent]
Ministerial Correspondence and Public Enquiries
Department of Health

*

Attentive readers will notice that this is a non-reply. This is typical of replies I have had from the Department of Health: a bland, entirely unnecessary, description of the protocol but ignoring entirely the issue of patient safety and the proper working of this policy.

I did in fact email NHS England (they were copied into my email to Jeremy Hunt as well), but I have not received a reply.


If abolishing GP boundaries is such a good idea, why won’t the Department of Health answer some basic questions?

25/01/2014

I have written on three occasions to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, copied to the Health Select Committee members (and miscellaneous media outlets) about some very basic problems with the Coalition Government’s flagship policy to abolish GP practice boundaries.

On each occasion, I have had replies from the Department of Health. None of these replies have remotely addressed the warnings I have raised.

It is as though an able seaman were to send an iceberg alert to the officers, and receive in reply the rota for cleaning the toilets on Deck C. Not once, but three times…

In the third reply, the Department of Health official writes:

“I note that you have contacted the Department of Health previously on a number of occasions about this issue.  The information given to you by my colleagues is the most up-to-date and accurate available, and there is nothing further I can add to this.  The Government’s position remains as set out in previous letters.I am sorry if this is not the reply that you were hoping for, but as there is nothing further that the Department can add, we must now consider this matter to be closed. ”

*

First email to Jeremy Hunt

Department of Health response

Second email to Jeremy Hunt

Department of Health Response

Third email to Jeremy Hunt

Department of Health Response

*

NHS England have done no better; see their reply, and my second attempt to get them to answer my questions.


Department of Health response to my second email to Jeremy Hunt

24/01/2014

This is the Department of Health’s ‘response’ to my second email to Jeremy Hunt:

Our ref: DE00000813924

Dear Dr Farrelly,

Thank you for your further correspondence of 13 October to health ministers about the removal of GP boundaries in six primary care trust (PCT) areas .  I have been asked to reply.

I am sorry that you were dissatisfied with the Department’s previous response (our ref: DE00000807059).  However, there is little I can add on the matter.

With many people working some distance from home, it is not always convenient for them to see a GP in the area in which they live.  The piloting arrangements were introduced to allow patients, who wished to do so, to register with a practice away from the area where they live, perhaps closer to where they work.  Arrangements are in place to ensure that, should patients wish to register away from home, they are still able to access primary medical services should they need them when at home.

The arrangements were trialled in a limited number of areas and the results have been evaluated and passed to NHS England.  It will be for that body to decide whether they wish to roll out the arrangements on a wider basis.  Should you wish to raise your concerns with NHS England, you can do so at the following address:

NHS England

PO Box 16738

Redditch B97 9PT

Tel: 0300 311 22 33

Email: england.contactus@nhs.net

I am sorry I cannot be more helpful on this occasion.

Yours sincerely,

Lindsey Cox
Ministerial Correspondence and Public Enquiries
Department of Health


Third ‘reply’ by Department of Health to my warnings about problems with abolishing GP boundaries

24/01/2014

In my last email to Jeremy Hunt and health ministers, copied to the Health Select Committee, I wrote:

So far you have evaded the issues I have raised in my previous emails. I am saying that this policy is unworkable, that in some cases it is unsafe; overall, it will impact negatively on the functioning of general practice. If harm comes to patients because of this policy and you and others have wilfully neglected a proper risk assessment, will you be accountable?

I require the following by way of response:

A. I challenge you and your officials at the Department of Health to respond, point by point, to my Submission to the Health Select Committee.

B. In the Department of Health’s media launch of the so-called ‘pilot’ in December 2011, we read: “The pilot, which will begin in April 2012 and last for one year, will also come as a relief to people who are moving home and wish to remain with their preferred practice, and families who would like a practice near to their children’s school.”

This detail of families registering at a practice near their children’s school is repeated in the evaluation Proposal submitted by Professor Mays in May 2012.

So you think this is a good idea? I challenge you and your associates at the Department of Health to answer the following questions about this particular idea:

1. What benefit accrues to a family if they register with a practice near their children’s school? Why would they want to do it?

2. How would this work practically? (Details please, full details of the mechanics of this).

3. Are there any risks or problems with this proposal?

*

This is the ‘reply’:

Our ref: DE00000834110
Dear Dr Farrelly,Thank you for your further correspondence of 13 January to the ministers of the Department of Health about the removal of GP boundaries.  I have been asked to reply.I am afraid that there is nothing that I can add to my colleague’s previous replies of 20 September and 23 October (our refs: DE00000807059 and DE00000813924).It is not always convenient for people to see a GP in the area in which they live.  Alternative arrangements were trialled in a limited number of areas and the results have been evaluated and passed to NHS England.  It is for NHS England to decide whether to implement the arrangements on a wider basis.  NHS England can be contacted at:NHS England
PO Box 16738
Redditch B97 9PT

Tel: 0300 311 22 33
Email: england.contactus@nhs.net

I note that you have contacted the Department of Health previously on a number of occasions about this issue.  The information given to you by my colleagues is the most up-to-date and accurate available, and there is nothing further I can add to this.  The Government’s position remains as set out in previous letters.I am sorry if this is not the reply that you were hoping for, but as there is nothing further that the Department can add, we must now consider this matter to be closed.  Unless you raise a new question, any further letters sent to the Department will be logged but may not receive a reply.Yours sincerely,Charles Podschies
Ministerial Correspondence and Public Enquiries
Department of Health
*