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Government plans to open 'commuter GP clinics' at railway stations are turning into a humiliating fiasco because PCTs cannot find suitable sites.

The seven privately run walk-in clinics, which will cost £25 million over three years, are already six months behind schedule. The Department of Health confirmed this week they are unlikely to be open until December at the earliest.

The clinics are slated for Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, and in London at Victoria, King's Cross, Liverpool Street and Canary Wharf.

Newcastle PCT said it was still looking for suitable space at Newcastle Central station.

Dr Debbie Freake, director of service design for the PCT said: 'We are hopeful of it opening in November, but it might be later.'

Dr George Rae, secretary of Newcastle and North Tyneside LMC, said GPs remained concerned about how the centre would integrate with other services.

Dr Richard Vautrey, secretary of Leeds LMC said there was bemusement about the commuter clinic among GPs as another walk-in centre was being built only a mile away.

He said: 'There seems to be a lack of joined-up thinking on this. I don't think GPs in Leeds will be too bothered if they are delayed.'

A spokesman for the department said its original spring 2005 start date had been 'ambitious' and admitted there had been 'slippage'. An announcement regarding procurement would be made in the near future, he added.

The department intends 30,000 patients a year to be able to access GP services, physiotherapy, chronic disease monitoring and minor injuries from 7am-7pm at the clinics.

By Rob Finch

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