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Abolition of boundaries to form centrepiece of Government’s choice drive

By Gareth Iacobucci

The Government has revealed that its proposals to scrap practice boundaries will form the centrepiece of its huge revamp of the choice agenda.

Speaking at the launch of the Government's health White Paper, health secretary Andrew Lansley outlined his far-reaching plans to expand patient choice, which include his vision for GPs to commission services based on the wishes of individual patients.

The White Paper pledges to: ‘Give every patient a clear right to choose to register with any GP practice they want with an open list, without being restricted by where they live.

It adds: ‘People should be able to expect that they can change their GP quickly and straightforwardly if and when it is right for them, but equally that they can stay with their GP if they wish when they move house.'

The Government also revealed that it will ramp up the role of NHS Choices as key lever for improving patient choice, but added ‘a range of third parties will be encouraged to provide information.'

Other key measures designed to drive the choice agenda are the expansion of Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) and the introduction of Healthwatch, a powerful new consumer champion, under the umbrella of the Care Quality Commission, whose remit will include carrying out a revamped version of the GP patient survey.

Mr Lansley said the plans were being developed on the basis that all patients should expect there to be ‘no decisions about me without me'.

The plans will see detailed information about the performance of hospitals in a range of diseases and illness areas made available to patients by practices, in a much more comprehensive form of the existing Choose and Book, which has been widely ignored by many GPs.

In addition to choosing which hospital they go to, patients will also be able to decide which consultant they see, with all GPs expected to take on responsibility for commissioning their services.

Choose and Book Your questions on the White Paper

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