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Split as BMA backs dual registration

By Joe Lepper

The BMA is to throw its weight behind controversial Government plans that could allow patients to register with more than one GP practice.

The decision is part of tactics to ensure the association is not frozen out by ministers as they develop proposals to increase patient choice.

But deep splits have already been revealed between GPs over dual registration, with some arguing it would enable 'devious' patients to play practices off against each other and seek second opinions.

A report revealing the BMA's stance on the Government's Building on the Best white paper on patient choice, presented to the GPC last week, stated dual registration offered 'opportunities to improve management of demand'.

Practical problems such as GP capacity would have to be overcome in order for the scheme to work, it added.

GPC joint-deputy chair Dr Hamish Meldrum said dual registration had 'real potential' but it was vital GPs were involved in developing it.

The GPC put dual registration on the table early in the GP contract negotiations but the proposal was dismissed by the NHS Confederation as unworkable.

Dr Meldrum said: 'It seems to be back on the agenda, but what I don't want to see happen is this to be discussed and decided it won't work without us being involved and offering the chance to find solutions.'

Supporters of the scheme agreed GPs had to be involved as problems over IT and GP capacity had to be resolved for it to work.

City and East London LMC chair Dr Kambiz Boomla said: 'Sometimes these kind of policies seem to get decided at Downing Street level because they sound sexy, but without any real consideration of the practicalities.'

Leeds LMC secretary Dr Richard Vautrey added: 'We need to ensure a GP isn't doing something that another has already done. There needs to be a better flow of information.'

But Liverpool LMC secretary Dr Rob Barnett 'could not see the need' for patients to register near work and home. He said devious patients could try to gain more medication.

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