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Independents' Day

Darzi confirms polyclinic roll-out in England

By Christian Duffin

Polyclinics housing a large number of GPs and specialist services under one roof will be built across England, health minister Lord Darzi has confirmed.

The announcement ends months of speculation that the controversial polyclinic model, already due to be deployed in London, will be rolled out beyond the capital. As Pulse reported at the end of last year, a number of cities including Leeds and Newcastle are already planning polyclinics of their own.

Currently heading up a wide-ranging review of the NHS, due to report this summer, Lord Darzi warned that although ‘most patients love their GP', a change was imminent.

‘I have no doubt that we are going to see a critical mass of general practitioners working together, rather than what we used to see in the past, which were practices with a single-handed clinician,' he said.

But GPs and patient groups were quick to attack the plans, warning the polyclinic model will not work in less populated areas where vulnerable patients such as the elderly will have to travel longer distances.

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said the government wanted to impose a ‘London-centric' model across the country.

‘This is a government plan that is potentially going to waste hundreds of millions of pounds of scarce NHS resources, creating very large health centres that many areas of the country simply don't need or want,' he said.

Dr Chris Jenkins, a GP in Stockwell who set up a petition in opposition to polyclinics on the 10 Downing Street website, said: ‘It's bound to be difficult to see the same doctors because polyclinics will work on a shift system. The elderly, children and the chronically sick will lose out the most.'

And Joyce Robins, co-director of Patient Concern, warned patients could be prevented from seeing doctors they have ‘known and trusted for years'.

Lord Darzi

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