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At the heart of general practice since 1960

My life was turned upside down for four years

Health minister John Hutton has pledged to overhaul

patient registration rules to enable people to register with more than one GP.

In an exclusive interview with Pulse, Mr Hutton said the rules had to be changed to enable 'commuters to see a GP at work or in lunch breaks'.

But he denied the controversial policy would mean the end of GPs' registered lists.

Mr Hutton said: 'Rules have to serve a purpose and that purpose has got to be to make sure people can have ready access to a GP when they need to see one.'

'I'm not going to allow

bureaucracy to get in the way of that but neither are we going to scrap basic architecture of primary care which means you register with a practice.'

Mr Hutton reiterated that GPC negotiators had raised the issue of dual registration with the Government during GP contract talks.

But Dr Laurence Buckman, GPC deputy chair, said there were too many operational issues to be worked out, such as how GPs would be paid and who would earn quality points for the patients.

'That's why it didn't get into the new contract. We will continue to talk but I can't say we're wildly enthusiastic.'

Other GPs warned that even with IT advances such as electronic transfer of records and the National Care Record, dual registration would damage continuity of care and could threaten patient safety.

Dr Rob Barnett, secretary of Liverpool LMC, said: 'I can see it causing more problems than it would solve.'

floating voters

We asked our panel of floating voters:

Will the Government's plans to extend patient access improve

the quality of care?

I'm concerned the introduction of walk-in centres or 'temporary resident' commuter access would affect quality payments. We'd lose the continuity of care that is the cornerstone of the GP role.

Dr Mike Blackmore, Aberdeen

This Government values access to primary care far more highly than long term continuity, which is against one of the basic values of general practice. I'm neither for it nor against it, but expecting we will have to adapt to it.

Dr Peter Davies, Halifax

This is another way of fragmenting primary care and creating more paperwork for GPs to look at, file and store on the computer. What about the continuity of care?

Dr Surendra Misra, Kettering

The Government is pandering to a small minority of vocal people who want what they want and want it now. I believe most patients want continuity of care with someone they know and trust.

Dr Rachel Sykes, Doncaster

One of the central tenets of general practice is the unique relationship between a patient and his doctor. Moving away from this model can only detract from that relationship and lead to clinical chaos with all its inherent dangers.

Dr Candida Lewis, Westmeston, E Sussex

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