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Exclusive: PCTs to miss polyclinic deadline

By Steve Nowottny

PCT bosses are set to bust the Government's deadline for the controversial rollout of polyclinics, after demanding more time to consult GPs and patients, Pulse has learned.

The move will mean that in some areas PCTs will be months behind the timeframe set by Lord Darzi.

But there are fears that the new consultations will still end up as paper exercises, as other trusts pressed ahead even where their local consultations had unearthed strong opposition from GPs and patients.

Two PCTs – Oxfordshire and South West Essex – have been granted extensions to the original December deadline for every trust to have tendered for a GP-led health centre.

They have been given until February and March next year respectively to finish the tender process.

A third PCT, Buckinghamshire, has also entered discussions with NHS South Central about a possible extension.

Pulse first revealed in January that trusts faced an uphill struggle to meet the December deadline, with one manager warning it presented ‘an absolutely impossible timescale'.

A spokesperson for South West Essex PCT said: ‘We wanted to look in more detail at our needs. We wanted to make sure that we involved clinicians and GPs.'

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘It is welcome that some PCTs have seen the sense to take their time to make sure that the process can be as meaningful as possible.'

But it also emerged that many PCTs were pushing ahead despite their consultations recording strong public opposition.

In a report to its board, Herefordshire PCT said that after contacting 200 stakeholders, including GPs, patient groups and local politicians, ‘a majority have expressed concern about the effect a nationally imposed model would have on local services'.

And Oxfordshire PCT's consultation on the new GP-led health centre proposed for Banbury found there was widespread ‘disappointment that no formal consultation was possible on whether a new GP-led health centre was needed'.

It concluded. ‘There were significantly more people in opposition than support'.

Dr John Crompton, chair of North Yorkshire LMC, said there was a ‘great argument' for other PCTs seeking extensions to consult more widely.

‘It's woefully inadequate timing to make sure that the services they're going to spend the £800,000 on are what the area really needs,' he said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health expected the 'vast majority' of PCTs to have signed contracts by December.

Polyclinics: PCTs are set to bust the Government's deadline Polyclinics: PCTs are set to bust the Government's deadline PCTs demanding extensions

Oxfordshire PCT – granted extension until February 2009

South West Essex PCT – granted extension until end of March 2009

Buckinghamshire PCT – applying for extension

All other PCTs – still aiming for December 2008 deadline

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