According to the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) the year-long pilot studies for the removal of practice boundaries raise “serious concerns” for the accountability of GPs regarding follow-up care.
Consequently, doctors involved in the trials – which began in London, Manchester and Nottingham in April – will need to communicate effectively with each other to ensure there is “clear agreement” regarding who is responsible for follow-up referrals and investigations.
MDDUS medical adviser Dr Barry Parker said that “prescriptions of drugs, treatment plans and referrals must always be co-ordinated to avoid confusion or duplication”. He added that failure to do so could result in patients being prescribed medicines that interact with each other or excessive supplies.
Furthermore, new guidance from the Department of Health has outlined more details about practice boundary restructuring. Legislation will be introduced to prevent surgeries having open but full patient lists. Practices wanting to close their lists will have to explain their reasons for doing so in writing to their primary care trust.
Surgeries will also need to agree outer boundaries with the trust – within which they would be responsible for home visits – and amend their contracts accordingly.