Despite opposition from healthcare professionals, the government has decided to push ahead with moves to dilute the boundaries of GP practices. Consequently, three major pilots will be launched across England from April 2012.
The measures aim to provide patients with a greater choice, enabling them to register with a GP near work, remain with the same doctor if they move out of the catchment area or use a surgery in a more affluent area.
However, GPs have expressed concerns regarding the financial implications of the changes. As they are paid based on the services provided, large scale migration could destabilise the funding of some practices and put their future in doubt.
One of the main concerns is the cost of funding home visits to patients who live far from their chosen surgery.
Additionally, practices in rural locations, which provide a vital service to nearby elderly residents, could be put at threat of closure if significant numbers of young patients choose to register elsewhere.
At the opposite end of the scale, surgeries within busy town and city centres may become swamped with requests for evening and lunchtime appointments, which, paradoxically, would limit patient choice rather than enhancing it.
We will, of course, keep you up to date with these changes.