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Independents' Day

Lansley: Practice boundaries must go to ensure choice

Scrapping practice boundaries is essential to ensure patients get real choice, shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley has said.

Outlining his party's plans on registration, Mr Lansley said that practice boundaries acted as a ‘solid wall of defence against patient choice.'

His message came as part of a fierce attack on the Government's health policies and its failure to implement promised Blairite reforms, delivered in a speech at the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (RSA) in London.

Pulse first revealed the Tories were considering plans to get rid of practice boundaries in October, after Mr Lansley hinted at plans in his party conference speech.

And earlier this month we revealed that the Government had given PCTs the all-clear to allow patients to register with a GP near their work, but continue receiving care from a GP near their home.

Mr Lansley accused health secretary Alan Johnson of failing to honour promises made in the Primary and Community Care Strategy, published last July, to expand patient choice of practice.

‘He said we'd able to choose our GP,' he said. ‘But look at the detail, it hasn't been implemented.

‘GPs still have fixed boundaries, they're not allowed to accept patients beyond those boundaries. And that's a solid wall of defence against patient choice. Unless and until we can break down those barriers we will not make patient choice a reality.'

Dr Vijayakar Abrol, a single-handed GP in central Birmingham, backed Mr Lansley's comments.

He said he still provides care for around 100 patients who live outside his practice area – some up to 30 miles away - despite attempts by the PCT to make them register elsewhere.

‘They've been with me for a long time and aren't a problem,' he said. ‘The GP is the most important thing in the NHS to the patient. If they can't have that choice, then the whole thing falls down.'

Andrew Lansley: Practice boundaries must go to ensure patients get real choice Andrew Lansley: Practice boundaries must go to ensure patients get real choice

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