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General Practitioners

Volume 479: debated on Monday 1 September 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the evidential basis is for the Minister of State’s statement on his interview published with the BBC News website on 3 July 2008 that one GP practice in the south of England has only two patients. (218305)

The evidence to support the existence of this practice—Burrswood Nursing Home is taken from the Exeter—Connecting for Health GP payment system, using latest available data on practice list size, Global sum payments and minimum practice guarantee correction factor payments.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health which 10 GP surgeries have the lowest number of patients; and how many patients each of those surgeries has. (219383)

The following table shows the 10 general practitioner (GP) practices with the lowest number of patients and the number of registered patients at each practice.



Burswood Nursing Home


Dyneley House


Dawcliffe Hall


The Surgery


The Windsor Centre


Cwll Health for Homeless


St. Margarets Health Centre


St. Weburgh’s Medical


31 Monkgate


Nightingale House


The data are taken directly from the 2007 GP Census collection at 30 September 2007.

In addition, 28 practices have been identified that have no registered patients but who may nevertheless be continuing to provide primary medical care services to patients who are not registered with that practice.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to publish national figures on access to general practitioners. (220025)

The 2007-08 national GP Patient Survey results were published on 16 July 2008, by the Information Centre for health and social care. The survey was conducted from January to March 2008 and shows improvements in patients experience of access during core general practitioner (GP) opening hours, but with more patients wanting to see a GP at convenient times, including, later in the evening or at weekends. This further confirms patient and public support for the Government’s initiatives to secure additional and more flexible access to GP services.

The GP Patient Survey 2008 for access and hospital choice have been placed in the Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment he has made of the level of morale amongst general practitioners; and if he will make a statement. (220026)

Assessments of general practitioner (GP) morale are carried out by independent bodies such as the British Medical Association, the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre and the UK Medical Careers Research Group. The results indicate that job satisfaction among general medical practitioners is higher than it was before the introduction of the new GP contract in 2004-05.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to extend access to GP surgeries; and if he will make a statement. (220032)

We have made three key commitments to improve patients’ access to general practitioner services: to extend the opening hours of existing general practitioner (GP) practices, securing at least 50 per cent. of practices delivering extended opening hours to their patients; to establish over 100 new GP practices in under-or poorly-served areas; and to develop 152 GP-led health centres, one in each primary care trust (PCT), open 8 am to 8 pm, seven days a week, 365 days a year. To achieve this, we have secured an agreement with the General Practitioners' Committee of the British Medical Association on extended opening, with investment of £158 million available to general practices; guaranteed additional investment of £250 million to PCTs to provided additional general practitioner services and proposed a further investment of £50 million by PCTs to initiate further local improvements for patients in accessing local GP services.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health with reference to paragraph 4.16 of his Department's Primary Care Strategy, whether (a) GP practice boundaries and (b) closed patient lists will be phased out. (221002)

The Department has no plans to change the regulations that set out the procedures that relate to either a contractor's practice boundaries or their ability to seek permission to close their patient lists. The Department will work with primary care trusts to ensure the current arrangements work better for patients.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health with reference to paragraph 4.16 of his Department's Primary Care Strategy, over what timescale he plans to remove the obstacles to people's choice of GP practices. (221003)

We are supporting the local national health service to work with general practitioners (GPs) and other primary medical care providers to ensure the public have a greater and more informed choice of GP practice. The range of measures includes procuring new additional practices and services, expanding the capacity of existing GPs, making more information available to the public about the performance of providers, and delivering a fairer and more equitable funding system.

There is already work under way in some parts of England to promote choice of GP practice.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health in what ways he plans to distinguish more clearly between the (a) commissioning and (b) provider role of GP practices, as referred to on chapter 7.10 on page 52 of NHS Next Stage Review: Our vision for primary and community care; and when he plans to do so. (221139)

Practice-based commissioning has two elements, which when supported by appropriate governance arrangements, have the potential to improve-the range and quality of local services. Firstly, the multi-professional, collaborative work in commissioning better care for local populations. Secondly, the role of general practitioner practices in providing an enhanced range of services for their patients. For example by establishing a phlebotomy service in the practice so patients do not have to attend outpatients, or by employing an extra nurse to provide proactive care in the community in order to reduce the number of emergency referrals. The Department will provide further information on this later this summer as part of a package of measures to highlight the precise role and contribution of practice-based commissioning.