“Choose your GP” Pilots Announced for April
UK Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, has announced that one-year pilot schemes for a new initiative which allow patients to choose their GP practice will start in April this year.
The trials, which will run in parts of central London, Manchester/Salford and Nottingham, will allow the public, for the first time, to select whether they want to register with a practice close to their workplace or home, without worrying about practice boundaries.
Commuters who are away from their local area during the working day are expected to benefit the most from the schemes, as they will find it easier to see their doctor when it suits them and receive the same services as in their old practice, say officials. The scheme will also be of benefit 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, they add.
The Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) involved in the pilots are Westminster, City & Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Manchester, Salford and Nottingham City. The sites have been selected because they have high numbers of commuters travelling into the area each day, and Nottingham is an existing live 111 pilot site.
GP practices in these PCT areas will be able to join the pilot on a voluntary basis, and the funding to pay for patients who use surgeries on a consultation-only basis will be capped at £2 million.
“This is just the beginning of a range of measures we hope to introduce to make the NHS truly patient-focused and will allow us to better understand their needs,” commented Mr Andrew Lansley.
“This pilot will mean patients taking part can access the high-quality care they deserve in a place and at a time that suits them. That’s why I believe patients should have the freedom to choose a GP practice that suits their lives, and not be restricted by geographical boundaries,” he added.
The initiative was welcomed by Westminster GP Ruth O’Hare, who noted that it will mean that “commuters working in the heart of London will in future have far greater flexibility around their choice of GP, enabling some to choose to see a GP closer to where they work.”
The pilots will be subjected to an independent evaluation organised by the UK’s Department of Health.