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RCGP welcomes delay to boundaries pilots

Louise Prime

Thursday, 22 March 2012

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The Royal College of General Practitioners has welcomed the Government’s announcement of a delay to the start of its practice boundaries pilots. The College said this morning that the Government should now use the extra time to examine properly the potential risks to patient safety presented by its proposals to relax practice boundaries.

Chair of the College, Dr Clare Gerada, said: “This delay is a wise move that will be welcomed by GPs. The benefits of practice boundaries are widely documented; they help GPs guarantee continuity of care, which we know increases patient confidence and improves their outcomes. They also enable GPs to visit patients in their own homes, and help them keep track of the most vulnerable patients.

“Geographically-defined practice areas also lead to effective joined up working between GP practices and specialist services that include midwifery, mental health services, health visiting and district nursing. Beyond this, they also help practices connect and work with local authorities to co-ordinate social care and address health inequalities.”

Dr Gerada cast doubt on the pilots’ feasibility and contended that there must now be a proper examination of their impact on patient safety.

“It is worrying that so many of the concerns relating to the pilot are yet to be resolved. With the benefits of practice boundaries so clear to see, the most important thing is that these pilots, if and when they take place, are subject to rigorous and transparent evaluation before any official policy roll-out, “ she argued.

“Now is an opportune time for the Government to consult on the framework for the pilots in order to ensure that the real risks they pose to patient safety can be properly addressed.”

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