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GPC argues dual registration must be enhanced service

GP negotiators are willing to re-open talks with the Government over its plans to allow patients to register with more than one practice.

Health secretary John Reid has championed dual registration as part of policies to improve patient choice but the move was dismissed as unworkable in GMS contract talks.

However, negotiators believe many GPs in urban areas would support the move as long as they are paid for the work.

GPC negotiator Dr Laurence Buckman said an enhanced service could be set up to pay practices for special surgeries for commuters.

'It was felt appropriate to offer care for commuters whose surgery is always "shut", and a lot of GPs in major cities think it would be a good idea,' he said.

'But if I was seeing other people's patients I would expect to see the money for it and offer it as an enhanced

service.'

He insisted continuity of care would not be affected, as long as patient records could be shared securely.

But the NHS Confederation said this was why dual registration was dropped from the contract talks.

GPs in urban areas also warned continuity of care would suffer.

Dr Karen Napier, a GP in Kensington, west London, said dual registration could lead patients to shop around for a second opinion. 'GPs give this up at their peril and the Government is ill advised to undermine our role which brings such cost-effectiveness to UK health care,' she said.

Dr Debbie Freake, medical director of Newcastle PCT, questioned whether dual registration was needed outside London and said it was not 'top of the priority list for enhanced services'. 'There is something to be said for the concept but we need much better IT systems,' she said.

Dr David Reade, clinical governance lead at North Liverpool PCT, said dual registration had advantages, as GPs often have to treat patients who fall ill while at work.

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