Page last updated at 13:17 GMT, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 14:17 UK

First five polyclinics for London

Hounslow polyclinic
Polyclinics will offer GP and diagnostic services

The first five polyclinics for London will be up and running by next spring, healthcare officials have announced.

The polyclinics in Harrow, Hounslow, Lambeth, Redbridge and Waltham Forest will reach patients in some of the most deprived areas of the city.

Polyclinics will bring together GP services, social care and community healthcare under one roof.

But critics say the proposals are wasteful and will undermine continuity of patient care.

The government plans to introduce polyclinics throughout the 31 primary care trusts (PCTs) in London within the next five years.

'London solution'

The new restructuring was proposed last year by health minister Lord Darzi in a review of London's health services.

"Polyclinics are a London solution to a London problem," said NHS London chief executive Ruth Carnall.

quote hereBut 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
Dr Tony Stanton, Local Medical Committees

"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 clinics will also provide community services, outpatient clinics, pharmacy and health information as well as onsite diagnostic facilities such as blood tests, CT scans and minor surgical procedures.

In some places more than one GP service will be housed under one roof - like "networks of practices" - but patients will not lose their GPs, Dr Tom Coffey from Healthcare for London said.

But Dr Tony Stanton, from London wide Local Medical Committees, is not convinced.

"We definitely need better surgery premises, we need more diagnostic services out in the community.

"But 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," he said.

The earmarked clinics are - Alexandra Avenue centre in south Harrow, north-west London; Heart of Hounslow centre in west London; Gracefield Gardens centre in Lambeth, south London; Loxford Centre in Redbridge and Waltham Forest PCT, both in east London.




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