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Family unhappy about surgery’s catchment exclusion

4 February 2009

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A doctor’s surgery in Cheltenham has stopped providing care for a pensioner after 54 years as she moved just outside its catchment area.

Marjorie Farmer, 97, had been a patient at the Leckhampton Surgery for over half her life, but after she broke her leg and was sent to a new nursing home, she moved outside the official catchment area of the practice, even though it was just 200 yards beyond the boundary lines.

Mrs Farmer had hoped she could continue to receive care from the surgery, but it informed her relatives that she would have to register elsewhere because she now lived outside the area covered.

The pensioner was moved to Barrington Lodge Nursing Home in Cirencester Road last year, as it was believed to be better equipped to care for her. But in doing so she unwittingly placed herself outside her doctor’s inclusion zone.

Her son Philip Farmer, a retired maths and PE teacher, said it was wrong if patients were being “cherry picked” by surgeries.

He is concerned that elderly patients in nursing homes seem like unattractive prospects who threaten a future drain on their resources.

Leckhampton Surgery’s practice manager told the Gloucestershire Echo: “It is customary when a patient moves outside our area to ask them to register with a practice whose area covers their new address.

“We will continue to provide care until suitable alternative arrangements have been made with another doctor.”

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Leckhampton Surgery

What’s your view – can strict regulations be detrimental to patient care? Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

“Yes. Often, the old flexible systems that made things work smoothly because someone was able to use their common sense, have been lost because of the ‘measure everything and only pay when you have to’ mentality” – Name and address withheld

“It is not a clear-cut situation – black and white does not necessarily work in all cases. A practice can and should use its  discretion when deciding to ask a patient to reregister elsewhere, and if the PCT don’t like it – tough. The idea that continuity of care is not essential is an unbelievable statement to make. I know from personal experience how vital it is to have continuity. If you don’t, it opens up a large number of cracks where information can fall into, with potentially serious consequences” – John Ritchie, Practice Manager, Cambridgeshire

“Yes – 200 yards is nothing, discretion is needed for further travel of other areas, however this patient has already experienced a traumatic time and also relocating to a care home, the comfort of a familiar GP would have been more compassioante on behalf of the surgery” – Louise Bzdek, Slough

“It depends on which regulation. In the case of not caring for a patient who moves outside the catchment area – NO. There are good and not so good doctors in all areas. Continuity of care is not essential for a patient” – Patrick Jordan, Cheshire

“Yes” – Kath Seel, Bolton