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Last Updated: Friday, 14 March 2008, 14:50 GMT
Doctors condemn super-clinic push
Hounslow polyclinic
The polyclinic in Hounslow, west London, is already open
Doctors are claiming local health groups are under pressure from government to create new "polyclinics" even if they are not needed.

The clinics, which provide a range of services under one roof, are part of a wide-ranging review of the NHS by health minister Lord Darzi.

The British Medical Association says the clinics will not work everywhere.

But the Department of Health said it was "not imposing health-centres on anyone".

At worst, it could destabilise existing services
Dr Hamish Meldrum, BMA chairman of council
The BMA has raised concerns about polyclinics since they were first mooted by Lord Darzi last year.

It fears they will be too big to offer patients continuity of care, and is concerned that they will not provide value for money.

Adverts asking public and private health providers to tender for contracts to run polyclinics around England are now appearing in trade magazines.

'Mis-interpretation'

BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said; "This is in addition to whatever services they already have, and whether they feel they need it or not.

"We're worried that at best it's a waste of resources and at worst, it could destabilise existing services."

John May, deputy chairman of the BMA's patient liaison group, said polyclinics could work in large urban areas, like London.

"But for those living outside London, there could be problems about how to get to the polyclinic."

We are not imposing polyclinics on anyone
Health minister Ben Bradshaw

Dr Meldrum said the BMA was concerned the reviews were taking a "big bang approach", rather than introducing gradual change targeted at local need.

Dr Michael Dixon, chairman of the NHS Alliance which represent local health trusts said: "I think the BMA are right, but there is a misinterpretation of what the centre wants.

"It is being taken too literally. The idea needs to be translated down to the locality."

He added: "Our view is that polyclinics are a good thing, providing they are very flexible in terms of meeting local needs."

Core services

Health Minister Ben Bradshaw said: "We are not imposing polyclincs on anyone.

"We announced the new GP-led health centres would offer core GP services and, where it makes sense, a range of other services.

"The mix will be determined locally by PCTs in partnership with local clinicians and patients.

"This is about the local NHS making changes that suit people's needs: clinically led, locally driven and putting the public first."

Lord Darzi has already published a review of health services in London and an interim report on care across England, in which the polyclinic proposal was set out.

His final report is due in the summer.



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