Big changes planned for London11th July 2007
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said the government has not drawn up plans to close hospitals in London.
However, new Health Minister Sir Ara Darzi has proposed the opening of 150 "polyclinics" in London. Critics fear this would mean the closure of existing hospital services.
NHS London, the organisation responsible for health trusts, have asked Sir Ara to carry out an assessment of the NHS in the capital. His review will direct the decisions of the capital's health managers as they reconfigure its services.
Sir Ara is also responsible for undertaking a complete review of the health service in England.
Conservative leader David Cameron said Sir Ara's comments were "on record" and asked Mr Brown in the Commons: "What can that mean if it does not mean cutbacks in departments, and closures within existing hospitals?"
The new GP-run polyclinics would provide multiple outpatient services. Sir Ara said that by 2017 a network of these clinics could offer up to half the outpatient services currently performed in hospitals. He stated that the clinics could save the NHS an estimated £1.5bn a year.
Jonathan Fielden, chairman of the British Medical Association's consultants committee, said: "It is pushing an old agenda, not a new one. Our concern is that this strips resources from hospitals and GP services. Changes to hospitals must involve clinicians and the public."
A Department of Health spokesman denied that the changes put forward for London would have an effect on the rest of England.
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