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Thursday, 17 September 2009

Scrapping GP catchment areas – superficially attractive but not essentially practical

Good to hear that this isn’t a priority for the Welsh Assembly Government as the BMA can see many drawbacks to the idea of scrapping GP catchment areas.

For a start, the rest of the health service and social services and county councils all work by boundary areas, and so to just suddenly take general practice out of that system, would be terribly complicated and actually very difficult to make work.

It would be hard for patients to access a doctor in more rural areas - how would they get home visits when they are ill, if they are registered miles away, near their place of employment?

Also what would happen to practices that are destabilised because some of the younger, healthier patients have gone elsewhere? Surgeries with a mix of patients, where some don’t visit their doctor that often, help general practice to be cost-effective. If younger people register near their workplaces, some practices could be left with patient lists mainly composed of those with long-term conditions and complex illnesses, severely disadvantaging some practices.

We do support boundaries being a little more flexible, so long as practice organisation isn't interfered with. We also support practices trying to make it as easy as they can for patients to see their regular doctor whenever possible. Our main concern though is not to disadvantage the most vulnerable, which these changes could possibly lead to.

So for the Department of Health to argue that the main reason for scrapping GP surgery boundaries is to increase patient choice, is in essence a false one, with many surgeries perhaps having to close as a result of these changes. This seems to be change for the sake of it.

Posted on behalf of Dr David Bailey, Chair of GPC Wales.

1 comment:

  1. Why not just have dual registrations so you can see a GP near work or home?

    At least over the border, the Govt is willing to take on the forces of conservatism and at least try and shake-up things for the benefit of patients.


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