The NHS and switching GPs

Guestpost by Wiggia:

http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/AboutNHSservices/doctors/Pages/patient-choice-GP-practices.aspx

In October this year, patients will, in theory, be able to switch GPs. Oh joy, some of us will say, but of course, as with all things, it seems there is a catch.

This will only be possible if the practices have signed up to the scheme in the first place. Well, there’s a surprise.

The obvious problem is that in rural areas and areas such as ours where GPs have merged to one practice, the chances of them being even able to take on an influx from a similar practice are basically nil.

Example – our practice that I have referred to previously is basically badly run, it is the result of four previous GPs merging, that immediately took away choice and now an area with new housing going up leaves them struggling more and more to cope, adding to the poor service.

In this case, there are things they could do but obviously the practice manager can’t or wont make changes for whatever reason.

But the next nearest GP has a very good reputation but they also are the only ones serving their geographic area. For them to sign up to this scheme would, I imagine, be the end of their ‘good’ practice, the potential for hundreds of new patients debunking to them would be a nightmare scenario, so if they have any sense they would not sign up to the scheme and in rural areas the same thinking would apply to many practices.

The only area there is a hope of it working is in any major metropolis where there are several GPs within a fairly limited area, any fall out from a “bad egg” could be spread around so not having the impact that the ones I have quoted would suffer.

When this was first muted, the MP with the biggest constituency here said straight away “that patient choice should be for all, but in this city with one hospital and large single practices, there is no choice and no likelihood of that changing whatever changes are made”.

For once an MP spoke the truth.