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Polyclinics diary

23rd June 2009

Polyclinic draws 1,000 patients in first month

23rd June 2009

The new Alexandra Avenue polyclinic in Harrow has been visited by more than 1,000 patients in its first month of opening.

The clinic is open every day to the public from 8am to 8pm. Lord Darzi said: "Residents’ response to this polyclinic has been overwhelming. Just eight weeks after opening its doors the centre is already demonstrating its value to the community in providing convenient and accessible high-quality health services."

London opens first Polyclinics

27th May 2009

The first seven polyclinics in London opened on the 28th April providing faster, more convenient, high-quality health services for patients. 

Among the seven are two projects from the Drivers Jonas project management and building consultancy team -  "Alexandra Avenue" and "The Barkantine."  The projects were both successfully completed a few years ago but have recently undergone minor changes to achieve polyclinics status. 
The polyclinics, located in some of the most deprived parts of London, will offer GP services 7 days a week 8am to 8pm, together with services provided at hospital, such as outpatient appointments, minor surgery, blood tests and x-rays. They will also provide access to pharmacy services.

People in London currently have to wait longer to see their GP than anywhere else in the country. The introduction of the first polyclinics will provide a wider range of health and wellbeing services planned around those who need to use them and open for longer for everyone.

Polyclinics also offer a solution to the problems of GP access and stretched A&E departments. A&E attendances are predicted to increase by 60 per cent in the next 10 years unless we improve access to local services. In a polyclinic, people in London can get immediate attention for minor injuries and illness, and access many of the healthcare services available at hospitals. Treating minor injuries and illnesses will reduce unnecessary trips to hospital.

All 31 primary care trusts (PCTs) in the capital are currently developing plans for polyclinics and in the next five years they will be introduced throughout London.

Commenting on the new polyclinics, Ruth Carnall, Chief Executive of NHS London, said, “Today’s launch of seven polyclinics sees Lord Darzi’s vision of improving healthcare for London become a reality. Polyclinics will transform primary and community care in London for the better, delivering accessible, high-quality services which will ultimately reduce health inequalities."


Seven polyclinics to open in London

29th April 2009

Seven polyclinics are set to open in London in the near future.

The first, Loxford Polyclinic in Redbridge, is purpose built and will open in June. The others – in Hounslow, Harrow, Lambeth, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest – are existing health centres that are extending their services. All will offer extended-hours GP and other services, including pharmacy and diagnostics.

Lord Darzi’s report on reforming the NHS in the capital, A Framework for Action, said five to 10 polyclinics should be developed by April 2009, though some GPs have opposed the move.


Darzi centres will make GP access harder for poor

16th March 2009

A report on health inequality by the health select committee has expressed concern that poorer parts of the community will have difficulty visiting polyclinics to see their GP.

The report said access for "lower socio-economic groups" could be affected by Lord Darzi's plans for the new centres. The report stated that if the GP-led health centres affected care, primary care trusts should "take steps to revert to traditional, more local patterns of service delivery".


Polyclinic takes patients and staff from practices

25th February 2009

The first polyclinic to open in the country has already started taking patients and staff from nearby practices.

London to evaluate polyclinics

11th February 2009

Primary care trusts in London are to evaluate the first of their polyclinics to show whether the developments are improving healthcare and access.

PCTs and clinicians, through Healthcare for London, have set out aims for the evaluation. They will assess whether polyclinics have met their goals, show which mechanisms drive differences in performance and outcomes and if they help improve commissioning of the model. The PCTs will aim to translate the findings into practical actions and demonstrate an evidence base for polyclinic.


PCTs plan for in-practice abortions

22nd January 2009

Primary Care Trusts are pressing ahead with plans to offer abortions in surgeries and polyclinics within the next few months.

An investigation by the journal GP found that a number of PCTs were exploring the idea.

At present, abortions can only be performed in hospital or an approved private sector clinic.

But a section of the 1967 Abortion Act does give the health secretary powers to approve abortions in primary care.

A pilot study by the Department of Health last year found that women could safely receive early medical abortions (EMAs) in community settings, paving the way for PCTs to develop abortion services.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request, Hampshire PCT said it was applying for a licence to provide EMAs at a GP practice in Basingstoke.

Hounslow PCT in London and Sandwell PCT in the West Midlands are also looking at providing medical terminations in polyclinics. Kirklees PCT in west Yorkshire, Islington PCT in north London and Somerset PCT also expressed an interest.

The Christian Medical Fellowship says the move would lead to an increase in the number of abortions.

But the British Pregnancy Advisory Service said that such a service was overdue.

Chief executive Ann Furedi said: ‘It is about time this happened. EMAs are in great demand and are the method of abortion that women want to use.

“It’s about making access to abortions easier and more convenient, not about increasing the number of abortions.”

The Department of Health said it would be consulting further on the plan.


Head of BMA to run polyclinic

8th January 2009

The chairman of the British Medical Association is part of a consortium that has won a £4m contract to run a new polyclinic.

Last year, Dr Hamish Meldrum was a firm opponent of polyclinics and headed the BMA drive against the new health centres.

But it has now emerged that his GP practice is one of four surgeries that have joined forces to bid for a five-year contract to run one of the new health centres in Bridlington, east Yorkshire.

The polyclinic is due to open in June and will offer seven-day-a-week GP consultations from 8am-8pm.

Last July, at the BMA annual conference, Dr Meldrum spoke out against the clinics and criticised the government’s "ham-fisted imposition of polyclinics" for pitching GPs into bidding wars with multinational corporations to run them.

He told BMA members: "The BMA wants to see an NHS untarnished by a market economy… not a service run like a shoddy supermarket war. Let's stop pretending that healing the sick is like trading a commodity."

However, in a recent interview with The Guardian, Dr Meldum said he opposed the plan by East Riding Yorkshire Primary Care Trust but said his hand was forced when another of Bridlington's practices formed an alliance with a commercial company to bid for the contract.

Health minister Ben Bradshaw said: "I am delighted by this vote of confidence from the head of the BMA in the new GP-led health centre programme."

The centre will be part of a network of 150 GP-led clinics designed to expand primary care services.


PCTs will not hit polyclinics deadline

12th November 2008

Primary Care Trusts are falling behind schedule in meeting targets for the roll-out of GP-led health centres.

Department of Health figures show that 20 trusts will not have their centres open by the deadline of April 2009. Statistics for October show that 17% of PCTs (20 of 118) are off course. Four estimate their centres will not be operational until December 2009 while a further five say they are unlikely to be ready by next October. The figures do not include London PCTs, which now have until 2010 to open polyclinics.


Urgent Care 24 looks set to win Darzi tender

23rd September 2008

OOH provider looks set to win the second contract to be awarded under Darzi's polyclinic rollout.

Patient trust undermined by polyclinics

23rd September 2008

According to a study by Leicester University, the government's plan for polyclinics could adversely affect "trust between the patient and GP".

Researchers spoke to 236 patients regarding whether they saw the same GP each time they visited their local surgery.

They discovered that patients who visited the same GP said they trusted their doctor and took the full course of any medication they were prescribed.

The polyclinic plan will see different types of health workers housed in the same place. The health service intends to install 150 polyclinics outside the capital, in addition to a large number within London.

The study asked patients from three GP surgeries to allocate marks for "the trust they felt" in the GP they had a consultation with on their last visit. 150 patients reported seeing their regular GP, while the remainder had seen another doctor.

The researchers also interviewed 20 patients and 12 GPs. Patients who saw their regular GP allocated a "trust rating" of 83.5 out of 100. Those who visited another doctor gave them 72.6.

Lead researcher Carolyn Tarrant said the government's plan to set up polyclinics was "bound to reduce continuity of care and our research shows that this may lead to a decline in patient trust."

"If patient trust declines, then medical outcomes may be adversely affected."


London gets first five polyclinics

10th September 2008

London will see its first five polyclinics up and running by next spring.

The new clinics will be in the Alexandra Avenue centre in south Harrow; Heart of Hounslow centre; Gracefield Gardens centre, Lambeth; and in centres in Redbridge and Waltham Forest. They will cater for patients who live in some of the more deprived areas of the capital.

Over the next five years, polyclinics will be opened in all of London’s 31 primary care trust areas and will bring GP services together with social care and community healthcare in one centre offering outpatient clinics, pharmacy and health information as well as onsite diagnostic facilities such as blood tests, CT scans and minor surgical procedures.

NHS London chief executive Ruth Carnall said: "Polyclinics are a London solution to a London problem. They will tackle two of the biggest problems in the capital, namely patients finding it difficult to get a GP appointment and the result which is people turning up at A&E when they should be seeing their family doctor."

The structures, proposed by health minister Lord Darzi in his review of health services in London, could also see networks of GP practices set up in the polyclinics.

Dr Tony Stanton, from London wide Local Medical Committees, acknowledged that better surgery premises and more diagnostic services in the community were needed.

But Dr Stanton said: "We don't need to do this in such a way that it risks destabilising good general practices or indeed risks sucking services out of hospitals."


Polyclinic nurses will outnumber GPs three to one

10th September 2008

Nurses will outnumber GPs by as much as three to one in Darzi’s national network of polyclinics.

PCTs reject Darzi's polyclinic vision

8th September 2008

NHS London has refused to talk about suggestions that "none of the first polyclinics planned for the capital are based on Lord Darzi's original polyclinic model".

Reports have come in that NHS London has only accepted "federated" polyclinics from PCTs. This means that surgeries that are close in location to the new site might not have to be closed, as the federated style of clinic links up existing practices.


London to get first wave of polyclinics

3rd September 2008

NHS bosses in London have decided to push ahead with first wave of 13 polyclinics.

LMC polyclinic bids controversy

2nd September 2008

Anger over moves by LMC leaders to bid for the government's new polyclinics.

Provider arms bid for polyclinics

29th August 2008

PCT provider arms are bidding for APMS contracts.

PCTs to miss polyclinics deadline

27th August 2008

A number of Primary Care Trusts look set to breach the government’s deadline for the rollout of polyclinics.

Some PCTs have asked for more time to consult GPs and patients, meaning they could fall behind the timeframe set by Lord Darzi. PCTs in Oxfordshire and South West Essex have been granted extensions to the original December deadline for every trust to have tendered for a GP-led health centre and have been given until February and March next year respectively to finish the tender process.


Mixed feelings about polyclinics

27th August 2008

New super surgeries are already being built, but how do people really feel about them?

Surgeries will lose one in four patients

26th August 2008

The Conservative Party's health spokesman Andrew Lansley has said that GP practices which are close to the new polyclinics will lose "up to a quarter" of their patients.

Labour's health minister Ann Keen called Mr Lansley's statement "nonsense". The Tories later withdrew the statement after it emerged that the calculations used to back up Mr Lansley's remarks were not correct.


Second wave of polyclinics

15th August 2008

A second wave of polyclinics across England is being planned by primary care trusts.

The move, revealed following a Freedom of Information Act request, has sparked fears among GPs that more surgeries than initially thought will be earmarked for closure.

The journal Pulse has found that up to a quarter of PCTs outside London have plans for additional polyclinics, in addition to the number already planned under health minister Lord Darzi’s review of the NHS.

A total of 85 PCTs were questioned, of which 21 have plans for their own polyclinics.That is in addition to the 108 GP-led health centres that are already planned nationwide under the review.

The journal reports that the move could see the closure of surgeries as practices co-locate.

The forecast figure of 150 surgeries likely to close outside London is now set to increase and be in addition to the 400 that could shut in the capital.

More than 30 surgeries could close in North East Lincolnshire and be replaced by 13 polyclinics and there are already plans for 10 in the Bolton area.

Dr Ajay Vora, a single handed GP from Barnetby le Wold, North Lincolnshire, said the plans for his area would finish off single handed practices.

He added: "I think the push is towards bigger, better, and allegedly cheaper from the government, but single handed people like myself are under threat."

Lancashire GP Dr Michael Taylor, who is chair of the Family Doctors’ Association, said he had 'great worries' about some of the schemes in rural part of the country.


Walk-in centres axed

30th July 2008

Primary Care Trusts across the country are shutting walk-in centres to pave the way for new polyclinics.

At least 10 trusts have decided to close walk-in centres or merge them with new GP-led health centres in a move that appears to directly contradict Government guarantees that new centres would provide additional capacity and not replace existing services. Norfolk PCT is among those that will close its walk-in centre despite a 5,600-signature petition from patients. North East Essex says its new GP-led health centre in Colchester would incorporate the existing walk-in service.


Polyclinics forced onto PCTs

23rd July 2008

The government is forcing PCT bosses to press ahead with polyclinics.

The push for polyclinics

16th July 2008

Alyson Morley asks in the Health Service Journal if the new polyclinics mean that relationships between doctors and their patients will be replaced by "big business intrusion into healthcare"? Or are they an important addition to the future of NHS care?

It is important not to miss two essential queries. Who should make the choices regarding polyclinics and which people should be included in the group responsible for making those choices?

MPs have stressed that that "localism" lies at the centre of government health reform. In May, Lord Darzi pledged that changes would be backed by the belief that "local needs are best met by local solutions".

However, there is a contradiction here. Darzi's review says that polyclinics should be developed in "all areas...irrespective of local variations in existing service integration, local health needs and geographical factors".

King's Fund studies have shown that polyclinics may not improve existing care services - particularly in financial terms and access to treatment. The arguments supporting polyclinics seems weak when patients may need to journey long distances to see their GP.

The term "polyclinic" has been changed to "super-surgeries, integrated health centres, community hospitals or health and well-being centres".

No matter what name is used, it is important that this remains "a local issue" and one which should meet the need of the local population.

Who should make the decisions about local healthcare? It appears that local patients are not being consulted about community healthcare.

It is not surprising that 1.2 million people have put their signature on a British Medical Association petition when they think they have no say in the way their local care is determined.

Lord Darzi has said that local health authorities will be able to look at proposals. However, they are often only allowed to do this at "too late a stage in the planning process" to make an impact.

Local groups must be given the chance to be involved at an earlier stage so they can participate in the discussion.

Lord Darzi's review could offer a real chance for positive local change and participation, or it could be another "top-down initiative that disregards local needs".


Abortions in GP surgeries debate

8th July 2008

Abortions could be carried out in GP surgeries and polyclinics.

Focus on patient need not polyclinics

26th June 2008

The RCGP says GPs and politicians should focus on patient need and not polyclinics.

The polyclinic debate rages

13th June 2008

Even before the dust has settled on the great hospital debate, it is now hotting up on the subject of polyclinics; yet both are linked.

The great hospital debate poses the question of whether it is better to have fewer, larger hospitals or lots of smaller district general facilities as has traditionally been the norm. The argument that specialist acute services should be centralised has largely been won though there are still pockets of resistance where people still believe they should have everything on their doorstep.

The quid pro quo in the great hospital debate is that services that do not need to be centralised in a great big hospital some distance away should be provided "closer to home" to use the NHS vernacular. But not every GP practice can justify its own diagnostic and treatment centre so here again the great debate is being played out but on a more local scale. In other words, specialist local services should be centralised into bigger extended health centres - or polyclinics.

But does this mark the downgrading of primary care or is it in fact the long promised decentralisation of general hospital services?

As we travel the "huge" distance to our local polyclinic we need to ask ourselves where we would have had to go to before. I suspect the answer is our local hospital, even further away, and not our GP.


PCTs defy plans for polyclinics

20th June 2008

Two Primary Care Trusts have rejected the government scheme for GP "super surgeries" known as polyclinics.

Herefordshire and Buckinghamshire PCTs have said the proposals would not make financial sense. Herefordshire PCT said they "considered this service model...neither affordable nor...value for money."


London super surgeries go-ahead

13th June 2008

The go-ahead for a network of polyclinics across London has been given the green light.

Despite the dispute between the government and the medical profession intensifying over the issue, a joint committee of the 31 primary care trusts in London has approve plans to provide at least 150 of the super surgeries with the first expected to open next April. NHS London says 51% of the public supported the plans with 29% against in what it described as the "largest ever healthcare consultation."


What is wrong with polyclinics?

12th June 2008

Dr Keith Hopcroft, a GP from Essex, writes in The Times about why the subject of polyclinics has provoked such an outcry amongst GPs.

The introduction of polyclinics can be likened to a "spectator sport", as it involves a fierce fight between MPs and health professionals.

GPs have said that the government is trying to implement poorly thought out ideas that will prove to be unsuccessful; while MPs have argued that doctors are "acting like prima donnas".

Put simply, the argument is based on Lord Darzi's suggestion that new surgeries - known as polyclinics - be put into place to improve patient care.

The government has put its weight behind the proposal and is interested in putting polyclincs in place throughout the country.

Why have doctors objected to the idea, when they are touted as offering "shiny new facilities, extended opening hours, multiple services under one roof"?

One major problem is the fact that extended opening hours only really benefit working people who need an appointment that will fit their schedules.

However, the people who use the service most often - older people, people with children, those with chronic conditions - need to have a surgery near to them.

Building a central polyclinic will be of "little use" to people who are unable to travel longer to get to it.

An additional problem is the "lack of continuity". A patient may not be able to see the same staff and the doctor-patient relationship will be compromised.

Polyclinics will make it difficult for GPs to ensure that patient care remains at the fore.

MPs have argued that doctors' objections come from the fact that they are part of a working culture which resists changes.

It is important the Department of Health asks why the medical profession - supported by the BMA, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the King's Fund and our patients - are "sceptical".

The reaction is, in part, "change fatigue". GPs are fed up that they are being tasked with yet another series of reforms. Doctors are still burnt from the government's overly harsh treatment of them over extended opening hours.

We are worried that the polyclinic proposal will turn out to be a flash in the pan - an idea which panders "to those with plenty of health wants but few genuine health needs".

Our strongest objection is that patient care will suffer through the loss of personal care. The development of polyclinics "is perceived as a threat to the heart and soul of general practice".

'GP threat' has public worried

12th June 2008

The British Medical Association has delivered a one million-signature petition to Downing Street as part of its campaign against polyclinics.

It was signed by people in support of current surgeries and opposed to the proposed super surgeries.

However, in response Prime Minister Gordon Brown criticised doctors’ leaders for their "ill-founded" opposition to planned changes to GP care in England.

Mr Brown said the issue was about improving access, not axing existing surgeries and that claims by the BMA that the plans would lead to provision being privatised were also wrong.

He said: "The issue at the moment is about increasing access to primary care, not replacing the existing GPs. We want GPs to be open longer hours and we want them open at weekends. And if that is not possible in some cases, we want to provide other sources of medical care."

The rift between doctors and the government follows health minister Lord Darzi’s plan for a separate network of 150 GP-led health centres across England.

Over the past three weeks, the BMA petition has been placed in practices across England and on the web calling on the government to support existing GP practices.

Dr Laurence Buckman, head of the BMA’s GPs committee, urged Mr Brown to take note of the electorate but also warned the government to work with doctors over the issues and to improve services.

The BMA fears the government is trying to commercialise the GP system and wants it to support existing practices and stop the involvement of private firms in the profession.


Polyclinics means more travel

10th June 2008

The Conservative Party has warned that patients will have to travel "treble" the distance to visit their doctor when polyclinics are built.

Information released as part of NHS London's polyclinic consultation has shown that the average distance to visit a GP will rise from 0.5 miles to 1.5 miles in London. Shadow Conservative health secretary Andrew Lansley said: "Labour's insistence on introducing polyclinics will make it much more difficult for society's most needy such as the elderly and young families to see their local doctor".

Polyclinics threaten care for elderly

9th June 2008

The British Medical Association's Patient Liaison Group have said the elderly "will be the worst affected by polyclinics".

The PLG have placed an advertisement in House magazine to urge MPs to discuss polyclinic proposals with Primary Care Trusts in their areas. Juliet Dunmur and Natalie Teich of the BMA's PLG said: "There could be problems of travel and access to general practice. Proper consultation with patients, the public and local GPs has not taken place".


Doubt over polyclinics

4th June 2008

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

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.


GPs may not work in polyclinics

14th May 2008

Up to a quarter of GPs may refuse to work in polyclinics if the Department of Health presses ahead in offering abortion in the community.

The warning comes from the Christian Medical Fellowship and follows a poll of 309 GPs which found that 24% would not sign abortion referral forms. The group’s chairman Dr Trevor Stammers, who is a GP in south London, said that this indicates a significant number of GPs would be put off working in polyclinics that performed abortions.


Mayoral split over polyclinics

4th April 2008

The issue of GP polyclinics has divided the candidates in London's mayoral race - one month before the election.

Conservative candidate Boris Johnson opposes the idea and said it should be reconsidered. Brian Paddick for the Liberal Democrats is in favour of the plan. Ken Livingstone, for Labour, said: ‘Londoners will support proposals for high quality community-based services; but they will also want guaranteed safe and accessible local hospitals, not closures."

Why polyclinics work for MPs

10th March 2008

The Economist asks why polyclinics are being touted as the best way to improve services and reduce costs in the NHS, when they may not be the best option for patients.

West London's eye-catching Heart of Hounslow Centre for Health has been open since 2007 and is heralded by Labour MPs as a way of spearheading a new way of treating patients within the health service.

GPs and hospital doctors work in two separate ways. GPs see patients first and are there to provide "primary care". Hospital doctors offer treatment within the hospital system, known as "secondary care".

The West London centre might be a way of giving patients treatment which connects the two types of care.

The centre is home to three GP surgeries, with 12 doctors who treat more than 20,000 patients. An average practice usually has four to five GPs, and some doctors choose to treat patients as sole practitioners.

The Hounslow centre also offers medical treatment which would usually require a patient to visit a hospital.

This "crossover" is still in its fledgling stages, but it is the country's closest example of the kind of care offered to patients in Germany. German polyclinics treat vast numbers of patients and provide services such as day surgery.

Health bosses will soon reach the end of a public consultation on a scheme which wants to see "as many as 150 German-style polyclinics" in London by 2018.

London's plans may soon be seen throughout the country, as the scheme comes in response to a report authored by Lord Darzi. Lord Darzi has been tasked with reviewing the NHS by the Prime Minister. He will submit his final proposals in June and has expressed his enthusiasm for polyclinics on several occasions.

There are two factors which influence Lord Darzi's approval of the polyclinic idea. One, he thinks they will offer improved care and accessibility for patients. Two, he believes they offer a more financial viable solution than hospital care.

His first idea seems "plausible but looks shaky" when examined closely. A polyclinic might be closer to a patient's home than a hospital but it will take more time to get to than a GP practice.

A patient's experience of a polyclinic will be that they are actually "less convenient" than their local GP surgery. The Royal College of GPs has said that the new clinics could destroy the "personal link" which patients have with their local GP.

Lord Darzi's second opinion also gives cause for debate. The health service will only make a financial saving if hospitals take out the "costs on activities being moved to polyclinics". This might not happen in sufficiently large numbers of hospitals to make a difference.

John Appleby, an economist at the King's Fund, has said that the transfer of care from GPs to polyclinics will be extremely costly.

The British Medical Association does not believe that polyclinics are the way forward. This might encourage MPs to believe they are a good option, since the relationship between the government and the BMA has been difficult following the negotiation of the new GP contract.

The National Audit Office said the GP contract had been £1.8 billion more expensive - from 2001-02 to 2005-06 - than MPs had envisioned. The government needs to understand that GPs can act as the "gatekeepers" to secondary care and as such ensure costs are kept low.

Germany polyclincs work in a system where hospitals do not provide out-patient treatment, However, bringing them into play in Britain is not a strong argument. Instead of a wholesale reinvention of the NHS, there are other ways of saving money and improving care.

Cameron must move on health reform

8th March 2008

Writing in the Sunday Times, Martin Ivens outlines why he’s not a great fan of the NHS as it stands at present.

Conservative leader David Cameron and his shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley may “love the NHS? as it is. But I don’t.

When he became party leader, every opinion poll indicated the public didn’t trust the Tories with the NHS, however Cameron then set out on an approach of “evolution, not revolution? and decided to match any Labour increases in health spending.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown responded, most notably with plans to replace GP practices and accident and emergency units with “polyclinics?. Also scorned by the badly negotiated GP contract, he sent Alan Johnson from education to health to “quieten things down.?

But what we still have is an NHS where “nothing very much is happening any time soon.?

Money is still being wasted, cancer figures are worse than most of Europe, it is difficult to see a GP out of hours and there is still the north-south divide - in favour of the south.

Lansley has suggested there will be a massive increase on health spending to 11% of GDP and that his party will not longer “fiddle with the NHS like new Labour?.

But now is the time for the Conservative Party to raise its game on the NHS and for David Cameron to offer Gordon Brown a challenge on health reform. Failure to do so will see a great opportunity lost and be another decade wasted in the development of the NHS.


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Article Information

Title: Cameron must move on health reform
Author: Martine Hamilton
Article Id: 5926
Date Added: 8th Mar 2008


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