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Last Updated: Monday, 24 July 2006, 10:10 GMT 11:10 UK
Boots 'aims to host NHS clinics'
Stethoscope
Boots is in talks about setting up a diagnostic service
Chemist giant Boots wants to introduce GPs and hospital consultants into its stores as part of the drive to bring the NHS to the high street.

Boots said it was is in talks with several local health bosses over setting up NHS diagnostic clinics and weekend GP surgeries.

It comes after ministers set out plans in January to move care away from hospitals and into the community.

Some Boots stores in London already house NHS Chlamydia-testing services.

We need more information about this and we would be concern if it was a move towards privatisation
British Medical Association spokeswoman

The latest services will be run under a similar agreement, with Boots renting the space to the local primary care trust.

The move has the advantage of giving the NHS access to the high street at a favourable rate, while helping to boost the chemist chain's pharmacy business.

A Boots spokeswoman: "We are in detailed discussions. The plans vary from place to place.

"It is a great opportunity for Boots and fits with the aim of making healthcare more accessible."

However, the push to bring the NHS to the high street has met some opposition from doctors.

Supermarkets

Some supermarkets have already expressed an interest in hosting services.

But at the British Medical Association annual conference in June doctors voted to oppose such moves, saying the sale of tobacco, alcohol and junk food would undermine the services on offer.

A BMA spokeswoman said there was concern over the latest discussions.

"We need more information about this and we would be concern if it was a move towards privatisation.

"If the GPs were employed by Boots there will be a potential conflict of interest as they are a profit-making organisation which sell pharmaceutical products.

"On the consultants side, we have to make sure there is space for sufficiently complex equipment."

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "We need to extend access to GP services and use of the private sector, including supermarkets and chemists, is just one of the ways that this could be done.

"This is entirely in line with our recent White Paper, which included proposals for making GP services easier to access and more responsive to patients, and we will be looking with interest at other innovative ideas about how to achieve this.

"For patients the most important thing is that services are free at the point of use and provide high quality care."


SEE ALSO
Move to push NHS into community
30 Jan 06 |  Health

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