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NHS England ‘urgently’ working on practice boundaries contract details

NHS England still hasn’t finalised the details for plans to allow GPs to take on patients from outside their boundaries without having to provide home visits, despite the scheme beginning in October.

Speaking at the Commissioning Show conference in London today, NHS England’s head of primary care commissioning and York GP, Dr David Geddes, said that NHS England was having ‘issues’ getting safeguards in place before October, when GPs will be able to register patients from outside their traditional boundaries.

Dr Geddes told the Commissioning Show audience: ‘[Lifting practice boundaries is] enabling patients to have a GP where they work, rather than where they live. And that creates issues for us in NHS England. How will we make sure that patients when they’re ill have access to a home visit, for example?

‘It’s up to the area teams to commission that from the home where the patient lives, the home practices. That might be something we might do jointly with CCGs, it may be through another system.

‘The way we’re exploring it at the minute is that, if I’m a patient registering with a London GP because I’m often down in London, then who’s going to look after me in York? What kind of contract will have to be developed so the GPs in York can look after me when I’m particularly poorly? There’s work to be done on that – that comes in in October, so it’s quite urgent.’

Dr Geddes also announced that NHS England is developing a new GP toolkit for practices to report recruitment and vacancy data, and aid workforce planning.

The tool will allow practices to report currently unfilled positions, nurse staffing levels and skills, and time to retirement of existing workforce, and is to be used to identify recruitment blackspots.

Dr Geddes said: ‘This year we want to be able to launch an up-to-date means by which practices can identify their workforce, their vacancies, who their nursing staff are, the skills that nurses have, and also the clinicians – in terms of where they are on the way to retirement, how long they feel they’ll continue to work.

‘We need that data on a very granular level in order to be able to start making plans, because we know there are areas which are under-doctored now, which have been under-doctored for years. We need to start to pull together with health and social care, with area teams and CCGs and with local education training boards to start populating doctors in those areas, and nurses.’