EXCLUSIVE: Darzi polyclinics just the tip of the iceberg as second wave revealed
By Nigel Praities
PCTs across the country are planning a second wave of polyclinics, in a move that will sharply increase the number of surgeries earmarked for closure.
As many as a quarter of PCTs outside London have plans for additional polyclinics over and above those dictated under Lord Darzi's NHS plans.
Information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from 85 PCTs reveals that 21 have their own plans for polyclinics – with a total of 108 new health centres proposed on top of the national rollout of GP-led health centres.
In most cases the new polyclinics will lead to the co-location of practices and closure of existing surgeries. So far PCTs have admitting around 150 surgeries will close, although this figure is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg.
The closures will add to the estimated 400 surgeries already threatened with closure in London due to rollout of polyclinics in the capital, as revealed by Pulse in May.
The plans include proposals for the closure of 31 surgeries in North-East Lincolnshire to make way for 13 polyclinics and plans for 10 polyclinics in Bolton.
Liverpool and Birmingham are also pressing ahead with their polyclinic plans.
The findings show the polyclinic drive is picking up pace, despite huge opposition from GPs and following leaked Government advice, revealed by Pulse in April, which encouraged PCTs to shrink the number of contracts with GP practices into ‘manageable procurements'.
Dr Ajay Vora, a single-handed GP Barnetby le Wold, North Lincolnshire, said the plans for his area would finish off single-handed practices.
'I think the push is towards bigger, better, and allegedly cheaper from the Government, but single handed people like myself are under threat,' he said.
Dr Peter Fellows, a GPC member and a GP in Lydney, Gloucestershire, said the PCT plans were an ‘absolute disaster' for general practice and were being driven ‘directly from number 10'.
‘This will move faster than anyone imagines towards the polyclinic world, which will be a disaster for patients because they will be much more remote from their GP in terms of transport and personalised medicine will go,' he said.
Dr Michael Taylor, a GP in Heywood, Lancashire, and chair of the Family Doctors' Association, said he had ‘great worries' about some of the schemes in rural areas and urged small practices to ‘make up their own mind' about the benefits of moving into a polyclinic. ‘Small practices have to be prepared to argue their case, as there is no evidence polyclinics work any better than what we currently have,' he said.Examples of next wave of polyclinics
Heart of Birmingham: expects all 75 surgeries to move into 24 new polyclinics.
Cumbria: 2 polyclinics to open, 9 surgeries to close
North-East Lincolnshire: 13 polyclinics to open , 31 surgeries to close
Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale: up to 5 polyclinics to open, at least 7 surgeries to close
Eastern and Central Cheshire: opening 3 new polyclinics with estimated 9 surgery closures
South West Essex: 2 new developments planned for Wickford and LaindonSecond wave: Darzi centres are just tip of iceberg as surgery closures loom Second wave: Darzi centres are just tip of iceberg as surgery closures loom