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Practice boundaries ‘will not be abolished’

24 October 2011

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Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has ‘softened’ his stance on practice boundaries with extensions only being made in “exceptional circumstances”.

Speaking at the Royal College of GPs’ (RCGP) annual conference in Liverpool, Lansley told delegates he is not looking to abolish practice boundaries, rather he is intending to “extend patient choice”.

“We need to think carefully about how to manage home visiting, about how patients who don’t live locally to their practice can receive urgent care, and about how information is shared,” he said.

“We will make sure it is done in a way that will preserve the responsibility for CCGs for the health of their local population.”

In his speech, Lansley said the government is “happy” to make any amendments to ensure the secretary of state’s role and accountability in providing a comprehensive NHS service is put “beyond all doubt”.

In a further bid to get GPs onside with government reforms, he said the introduction of ‘any qualified provider’ would be introduced in a “controlled way” and voiced his sympathy over the current “tight” GP training schedule.

“The current training schedule is tight,” Lansley said. “I am very sympathetic to the new responsibilities and roles that need to be included in training.

“The delay has been frustrating to all but progress is being made. We will implement recommendations made in the new year.”

In a heated Q&A session, in which only one GP voiced his support for the bill, Lansley was deemed “patronising” by Dr Stuart Sutton, a GP trainee from London, for appearing to claim GPs do not understand the bill.

When pushed on the issue of NHS privitisation, Lansley rejected claims he was moving the NHS to a US-style model.

“I am not proposing a system anywhere near the American model, we have deliberately moved away from an insurance-based system,” he said.

“The bill does not allow an extension of charging. Clearly, I have more confidence in the NHS than you do to deliver the changes.”

Lansley rubbished claims that the NHS is in a current state of chaos as changes have already been implemented ahead of the bill’s approval.

“I don’t see chaos. I see changes that are making the system better for the future,” he said.

As Lansley spoke, cries of ‘please listen’ were made all around the auditorium as the tension rose.

However, it wasn’t all bad for the health secretary. A group of GPs told MiP after the conference that they were “swayed” by Lansley’s speech, believing him to have the “best interests of the NHS at heart”.

Are you finding yourself ‘swayed’ by Lansley’s concessions? Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

“Not at all. He is continuing Tony Blair’s third way by cosying up to the UnitedHealth’s of this world” – Michael Search, Greenwhich