Commuters in south west London will be able to register with GP surgeries near their workplace, according to new plans.

In a drive to give patients more convenience and raise standards, patients would no longer be forced to register with a practice near their house.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham visited Wandsworth Medical Centre, in Garratt Lane, yesterday to open the public consultation on the scheme.

He said: “One in five people have said that they would use this right to choose if they were given it.

"In Wandsworth we have a lot of young commuters who would probably like to choose practices with opening hours that suits them.”

Research conducted by the Department of Health showed many patients wanted to register nearer to work.

Others wanted to be able to find a practice offering longer opening hours or more services away from their homes.

It is hoped giving patients choice will increase competition between surgeries, thereby driving up standards.

As healthcare is known to be worse in the poorest areas, the new plans would also allow low-income patients to access better healthcare.

Surgeries with a good reputation are likely to become oversubscribed, but Mr Burnham denied this would affect patients living nearby.

Instead he hinted that top-performing practises might be expanded.

He said: “It's not about taking people off lists. People who are already on the list can stay. But it means that if the patient wants to move, the money will follow the patient.”

Julia Smeddle, 45, a patient at the centre, added: “I think it's an excellent idea. It widens choice for patients and it's better to have a GP closer to work than where you live.

“I think it just makes it more competitive. The services will have to be good, opening for longer hours.”

However, concerns have been raised over the cost of the measure, as allowing people to register with GPs near both home and work could cost millions more a year.

There are also concerns over how home visits would be conducted cost-effectively if GPs lived far away from their patients.

Consulation runs between March 3 and the end of May, with views accepted either online or by post.

To have your say online, visit