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Deadline? What deadline?

Your article on the polyclinic deadline is misleading.

There is no deadline or target for GP-led health centres to be open to the public by 1 April 2009.

We asked the NHS to complete procurements for new services during 2008/9 and most PCTs are actually on track to sign contracts with bidders before 31 March 2009.

Some PCTs have already awarded service contracts so patients in these areas will have access not only to their local GP practice but also a range of new GP services that are open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week before Christmas.

We expect the great majority of PCTs will be opening these services during 2009 but it is for local PCTs to decide on the most appropriate opening date to reflect local circumstances.

Ben Bradshaw, Health minister

Editor's note

Mr Bradshaw's response is puzzling, given that a whole series of PCTs - among them Shropshire County, Norfolk, North Staffordshire and Somerset - all state in published minutes that they are working to the Department of Health's April 2009 deadline. It may well be that the DH has quietly removed that requirement, but if so, PCTs don't appear to know about it.

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