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Practice boundary pilots to start ‘from Easter’

Pilot schemes to test the abolition of GP practice boundaries will not begin until at least after Easter, the Department of Health has revealed.

The pilots in parts of London, Manchester and Nottingham were due to have started next month, with PCTs asked to put in place urgent care arrangements by April 1.

Spread across six PCTs, the pilots will allow commuters to use an alternative practice near where they work, either as a non-registered out-of-area patient at any practice within the pilot, or as a registered out-of-area patient in a number of volunteer practice.

A recent Pulse investigation found only 33 out of 194 practices across three PCTs had expressed an interest in taking part by the end of February, with the three other PCTs taking part still gauging interest and all six yet to receive any funding or information about the money they would receive.

The Department of Health confirmed that detailed guidance on the scheme would be sent out ‘very shortly'. The DH was unable to give a precise start date for the schemes but said it would be ‘after Easter'.

A DH spokesperson said: 'PCTs have been asked to ensure they have urgent care arrangements in place ready for when the GP choice pilots begin. They are on track to do so.'