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Doubt over polyclinics

4th June 2008

A survey has shown that many NHS consultants have doubts over the merits of large scale polyclinics.

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The research was carried out by the British Medical Association, which canvassed consultant opinion on the new surgeries.

It received 1,587 responses from which 60% either disagreed or strongly disagreed that they would improve patient care and 42% remained unconvinced they would improve access to treatment.

More than seven out of 10 respondents felt the new super surgeries - which would combine standard primary care with facilities for minor operations - would destabilise hospitals and GP practices.

There is a concern among critics that smaller GP practices would close and the Conservative Party suggests about 1,700 would be affected under health minister Lord Darzi’s plan.

The BMA survey also revealed discontent among consultants about greater use of the private sector to provide NHS services.

Chairman of the BMA’s Consultants’ Committee Dr Jonathan Fielden said: “Consultants are concerned that further private sector involvement, particularly the development of polyclinics, is bad news for patients and the NHS.

"The profession has better ideas on how we can sustainably improve the service for patients."

The Department of Health said the BMA had distorted government plans.

A spokesman added: "We are not imposing super surgeries or polyclinics or replacing existing services. In fact, we are investing record sums in existing GP practices as well as providing more GP practices in under-served areas."

He pointed out that 150 GP-led health centres would complement existing GP practices, providing additional access and choice for patients.

 

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