The Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, has announced plans to allow patients in England to choose which GP they want to register with.
From April next year, a trial of the plans will begin. People in parts of London, Manchester and Nottingham will be allowed to register with a GP of their choice. This means that people will not be forced to register with a GP near to where they live and can instead register with one by their workplace, or near a child’s school.
Mr Lansley indicated that commuters have the most to benefit from the scheme and added that it should not be too much of a burden on local primary care trusts.
Mr Lansley indicated that this was the beginning of a range of measures that they hope will make the NHS more patient-focused. He added: “Many patients are happy with their local GP practice, but a significant minority have problems registering with a practice of their choice. This pilot will mean patients taking part can access the high quality care they deserve in a place and at a time that suits them.”
The pilots of the scheme will involve the Westminster, City and Hackney, and Tower Hamlets primary care trusts (PCTs) in London. The Manchester and Salford PCTs will also be involved, as will the Nottingham PCT. These sites all have large numbers of commuters who travel into the are, so were chosen to be involved. However, GPs will also be permitted to opt out if they do not want to participate. Some have raised concerns that it will make home visits and out of hours care more complicated and increase pressure on Accident and Emergency services.