There are “many practical challenges” to overcome before plans to let people choose which NHS GP they see will work smoothly, a patients’ group has warned.
The National Association for Patient Participation has said it welcomes the principle of greater choice but that significant questions remain over plans that were announced last year.
It is unclear how services such as home visits will be allocated, although Health Secretary Andy Burnham has given an assurance that they would be protected as he plans to abolish catchment areas, allowing patients to pick any practice, such as one nearer their workplace.
Launching a Government consultation, Mr Burnham is giving health professionals and patients 12 weeks to put forward their own ideas for how the new system could operate.
The co-ordination of community-based services, safeguarding access for people to hospital and specialist treatment, are also in question.
Mr Burnham said: “We would like to hear from patients, GPs and practice staff with their views on the new system.”
The Tories are already committed to abolishing fixed practice boundaries and have criticised Labour for not acting sooner.
But Mr Burnham said Conservative plans to restore GPs’ right to decide evening and weekend hours would reduce choice by putting up to five million appointment slots at risk.