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News archive - November/December 2011

More choice for patients in new GP deal

More choice for patients in new GP deal

PATIENTS WILL GET more choice over which GP treats their family following agreement between the Government and British Medical Association over changes to the GP contract for next year.

The new deal will see three major pilots launched across England from April 2012 that will allow patients to register at practices away from where they live, such as near to where they work or close to a relative they care for or even close to a child’s school. It will also mean that patients may not be forced to change GP surgery if they move locally. This, says the Government, will save up to three million people who move locally every year the inconvenience of re-registering as they can remain with the practice of their choice.

Seventy-five percent of patients who responded to a recent consultation on GP choice made it clear that they wanted greater ability to register with a practice of their choice. The settlement provides the opportunity to fully test and evaluate the impact of increasing choice in pilot areas and will inform proposals before wider implementation is considered.

The contract agreement aims to promote better working practices between GPs and A&E departments. GPs are to work in groups to review the patterns of A&E attendances and find ways of improving the quality and accessibility of the care they provide so that patients avoid unnecessary A&E attendances. The scheme focus in particular on quality of care for older patients with complex health needs at high risk of admission, children with minor illness or injury and patients who frequently re-attend A&E.

Subject to the Health and Social Care Bill, it will be a contractual duty for GP practices to be members of a clinical commissioning group (CCG). This provides clarity to GP practices over their contractual responsibilities and is an important step forward in the process of NHS modernisation.

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