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Abolishing practice boundaries will divert care from those who really need it

Tower Hamlets LMC vice chair Dr Jackie Applebee says removing practice boundaries would affect GPs’ ability to care for vulnerable local patients, such as the elderly.

Tower Hamlets GPs are concerned that the abolition of practice boundaries will compound the already dire situation in which general practice finds itself.

The work which we are expected to do in general practice is forever increasing, without the addition of extra resources to deliver the expected care. Excellent surgeries such as the Jubilee Street Practice are threatened with closure and there is a recruitment crisis in tandem with many GPs leaving the profession early.

In Tower Hamlets, the widely held belief amongst GPs is that opening practice boundaries will divert care from those who really need it to the more articulate worried well, as people exercise their right to register with a GP of their choice, those more vulnerable patients living nearby, such as the elderly, mentally ill and those who have complex multi-morbidity will be squeezed out.

In Tower Hamlets we have worked hard to improve outcomes and now, in one of the most deprived boroughs in the country, we have some of the best immunisation rates and cardiovascular outcomes in the country, this work would be undermined if practice boundaries are abolished.

The buzz word of the day is ‘integrated care’. This means locally based, multi-disciplinary team working. We cannot deliver this if we are to care for patients who live miles away from our surgeries. With all of this in mind Tower Hamlets GPs have developed a letter for patients and a poster to put up in surgeries, explaining why we will not be abolishing our boundaries.

Dr Jackie Applebee is vice chair of Tower Hamlets LMC and a GP at the Tredegar Practice.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Many patients who move within the general area but outside their Practice boundaries will benefit, as they have built up trust and a relationship with their GP and don't want the uncertainty of looking for a new relationship. And the Practice could of course refuse to sign up newcomers living too far away. I am aware of many patients who have moved into flats beyond their GPs practice boundary, but when purchasing our Health eCard beg us not to inform their GP.

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  • Could you explain a bit more about your Health eCard?

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