On the Agenda - Patients free to choose doctors

In a nutshell Patients will be able to register with any GP as part of new plans announced last week. Health Secretary Andy Burnham said patients would have a greater choice of GPs and would be able to ditch those they were not happy with.

GPs: catchment areas set to be extended
GPs: catchment areas set to be extended

What is the current situation?

Patients must change GP if they move away from an area for longer than three months. The changes will mean commuters can register with GPs near workplaces and parents with practices near schools.

Where did the plans originate?

The idea to allow patients to register with any GP was proposed by the think-tank, the New Local Government Network (NLGN), in March 2009.However, the Conservative Party proposed the idea that patients should be able to register with the practice most convenient to them in their 2007 policy paper ‘The patient will see you now doctor'.

What will the new plans mean?

The NLGN said the move would help to give more choice to patients. The Government hopes the new rules will make poor doctors improve their services.

Media coverage

The Times ran the story on the front page, while it was covered on page two of the Daily Mail with the headline: 'Patients to get the freedom to shop around for a GP'.

PR support

The Department of Health press team briefed the media the day before Burnham gave his speech. The NLGN in-house team also answered calls from the press on the story.

56,000 - Number of GPS in the UK

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