Announcing inquiry into the GP practice boundary issue

08/07/2012

I am beginning research for a series of articles for Pulse on the issue of GP practice boundaries. My intention is to look at the evolution of this policy, and to examine the details. I hope to interview politicians, policy makers, journalists.

The articles will probably be published in October 2012, depending on progress.

I will post a regular diary on this blog, and I invite comments.

My thinking at the moment is summed up by a comment I left on a Pulse editorial recently, and which was published by Pulse last week as ‘Letter of the Week’:

The policy which this ‘Pilot’ is supposed to be testing is of a groteque stupidity. Those who understand how general practice functions can see quite quickly that it is a nonsense and that it cannot work. The word ‘choice’ seems to put people into a trance where their critical faculties shut down.

Either the politicians and policy makers who back this are remarkably stupid, or, which is probably more likely, they are actually quite clever and are playing a game of deception. They have done a good job of deceiving journalists, parliament, members of the public, and some GPs. They are manufacturing consent so they can say ‘we are only doing what the public want’. Abolishing practice boundaries is a Holy Grail for some: it will ‘liberate’ English general practice for large for-profit companies like Virgin Care, and allow an entirely different model of primary care provision.

Will the Department of Health undertake an honest, transparent, robust ‘independent evaluation’ of this train wreck of a pilot? Or will they try to roll it out nationally before the ‘evaluation’ has reported? Watch this space. If and when they roll it out, watch the numerous problems come to the surface. One day people will look at this policy and marvel: How can so many people have been so stupid?