By Gareth Iacobucci
GPs will be responsible for commissioning care for patients who live way outside their own locality under the Government's sweeping package of NHS reforms.
The Department of Health's consultation on its GP commissioning proposals, published today, makes clear that GP consortiums will be responsible for commissioning all care for patients registered at its member practices when the changes come into force.
This is despite the fact that the Government's White Paper, launched last week, also set out plans to abolish practice boundaries – which will allow patients to register with any practice they choose, regardless of geography.
The move therefore raises the prospect of GPs having to commission services for patients many miles from their own practice area, when they eventually take on around 80% of the NHS budget.
The document, entitled Commissioning For Patients, said it was the Government's intention that local consortiums would assume responsibility for patients regardless of where they live.
It reads: ‘Just as PCTs are currently the responsible commissioner for people registered with a GP practice in their area (even if they live elsewhere), the consortium will be the responsible commissioner for any patients registered with its constituent practices.'
As widely predicted, the document also confirms that GPs will be responsible for commissioning out-of-hours services, in addition to all urgent and emergency care, elective hospital care and rehabilitative care, most community health services, and mental health and learning disability services.GPs to commission care for all registered patients, regardless of where they live