Page last updated at 23:41 GMT, Wednesday, 16 April 2008 00:41 UK

Health managers back polyclinics

Doctor generic
Ministers want to see polyclinics set up in England

NHS managers have given their backing to polyclinics and attacked the "knee-jerk" reactions of critics.

Ministers want to see the super GP surgeries, housing doctors alongside a host of other health staff, set up across England.

The policy has been roundly condemned by doctors and patients, but the NHS Confederation said they had the potential to improve care.

And the group added a more balanced debate about the policy was needed.

Polyclinics are designed to offer a range of care services by social workers, nurses, physiotherapists and doctors.

While it may sound like the polyclinic system will not resemble the service currently provided by family doctors, in reality it should build on what is best in general practice
Nigel Edwards, of the NHS Confederation

In particular, the government wants to see them provide services traditionally carried out in hospitals, such as diabetes treatment, minor surgery and diagnostic tests.

The government has called for 150 polyclinics to be set up, seeing them as the future of an NHS where hospitals will concentrate only on the most complicated care.

The NHS Confederation, which represents local health chiefs, said there were many misconceptions about the new model of care.

Its report said the clinics were not about saving money, but improving the quality of care and patient experience.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Polyclinics are an idea worth exploring and should be given a chance
John Pearce, Bolton

The group said the polyclinics could help patients avoid being bounced from GP to hospital and back to GP.

And it hit out at suggestions from doctors that it would undermine continuity of care by pointing out patients could still be regularly seen by one GP at a polyclinic.

However, the report also warned ministers that there should be no central blueprint for what a polyclinic should look like as needs varied from area to area.

Reaction

Nigel Edwards of the NHS confederation supports polyclinics

Nigel Edwards, director of policy at the NHS Confederation, said there had been "knee-jerk" reaction to the proposals.

"While it may sound like the polyclinic system will not resemble the service currently provided by family doctors, in reality it should build on what is best in general practice."

But Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the British Medical Association's GPs committee, who has been a long-term critic of the policy, said the doctors' union saw the clinics as a way of getting the private sector more involved in the NHS.

"This commercialisation of patient care in the community is the very opposite of the personalised care which the government espouses and which family doctors already provide."

The Department of Health welcomed the intervention of NHS managers.

A spokesman said: "The new health centres will enhance a patient's ability to choose the service that best suits their needs."


SEE ALSO
'Super surgery' plans condemned
16 Feb 08 |  Health

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