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'Three visits and you're in' at Darzi centre

By Steve Nowottny

Patients who attend a GP-led health three times as walk-in cases will automatically be offered registration, even if they already have a practice, Pulse can reveal.

Dozens of the new centres are due to open around the country next week and will begin recruiting patients from across wide catchment areas.

But it has emerged that in at least one area, PCT managers are going further - and have made offering frequent walk-in attendees registration a contractual requirement.

The move has generated controversy in Doncaster, south Yorkshire, where the PCT provider arm and some local practices will run a new GP-led health centre in the town centre.

It has prompted neighbouring GPs to launch a poster and leaflet campaign, alerting patients to the full ramifications of switching practice.

Dr Dom Patterson, a GP at the Burns Practice which will be just 400 yards from the new health centre, said GPs were told at a local educational meeting that ‘if patients visit three times they'll be invited to register with the 8-8 centre'.

‘That was met with quite a lot of disgust from a few of the local practices not involved,' he said.

‘My concerns were about stealth registering, that patients would not be made fully aware of the facts but told here's a form to fill out to see the doctor, and maybe next time they come to our practice they'll realise they're not a patient of ours any more.'

An NHS Doncaster spokesperson said: ‘The specification requires the 8-8 provider to have processes in place to recognise when the bulk of care for an unregistered patient is being provided through the 8-8 service. A patient attending on three consecutive occasions was used as an example.

‘If this situation arises they must engage with the patient to explore whether registration with the 8-8 service might improve the patient's experience and provide better clinical management.'

Dr Rosie Hamlin, secretary of Doncaster LMC, said the committee had been unaware of the contractual clause and was likely to coordinate a wider poster campaign to warn patients in practices across the town.

‘The whole point of the 8-8 is that it is extra and isn't replacing – and this almost appears to be replacing,' she said.

‘The concern is that they have to have a positive conversation about registering and that this is in the contract. That's something completely different to patients being aware they can register if they wish.'

Polyclinic poaching: GPs are being forced to campaign to keep their patients Polyclinic poaching: GPs are being forced to campaign to keep their patients

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