Will there be a future right to choose your GP?

Since 31 April 2012, a scheme has been operating in limited areas whereby patients can choose to register at a GP practice out of their area.

Individuals can thereby choose for instance to register with a GP practice close to their place of work rather than their home address if this is more convenient. Equally a patient could choose to have a routine consultation with a participating practice out of their area whilst staying registered with their own local practice.

As anticipated the scheme which was set to run for one year will come to an end on 31 March 2013.

Once a final evaluation of the scheme (due in July 2013 from the Policy Innovation Research Unit of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) is received the Secretary of State will consider the evaluation and decide whether elements of the scheme should be rolled out nationally.

Issues such as practice boundaries registration and contractual terms will need to be considered before any decision can be made on the national roll out of the scheme.

Patients who have been participating in the scheme and registered with a participating practice outside their home area will be able to remain so registered through a new scheme - The Patient Choice Extension Scheme. This extension scheme and corresponding Directions will prevent current participating patients and practices from having to de-register and then potentially re-register the patient if a decision is made to implement elements of the scheme nationally. This extension scheme will end on or before the 31 March 2014.

Watch this space for news relating to the evaluation of the scheme and consideration of whether it can be rolled out nationally.

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