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At the heart of general practice since 1960

GPs' fury over plans for new wave of polyclinics

By Gareth Iacobucci

GPs fighting a second phase in the roll out of Lord Darzi's GP-led health centres are railing against plans to locate one on top of a host of existing surgeries.

Emotions ran high as GPs joined forces with patients to protest against the plans in London, which are far behind the rollout in the rest of the country.

Dr Louise Irvine, a GP who spoke out at the event in Lewisham, attacked proposals to locate a GP-led health centre right alongside four existing surgeries at the Waldron Health Centre.

She said: ‘The PCT wants to move the centre right on top of us. I know they say GPs are worried about competition and the good practices will survive, but we are a good practice, and we worry we will go under.'

But a spokeswoman for NHS Lewisham denied the claims: ‘Contrary to local concerns, GP-led health centres are not going to replace local GP practice.

'We have taken the step of consulting the public. This demonstrates that we are taking this issue of location and what services the centre will provide, very seriously

Dr Irvine also insisted GP entrepreneurs who were bidding for contracts away from their own area were no better than the private sector. ‘I don't make any distinction. They are still there to hoover up profits,' she said.

But the controversy over GP leaders bidding for centres was fuelled this week with the news RCGP vice-chair Dr Clare Gerada has successfully bid for a centre in London.

NHS Southwark announced The Hurley Clinic, whose partners include Dr Gerada, was preferred bidder for its GP-led health centre.

Dr Gerada, whose practice has bid for a string of centres both in and outside the capital, said GPs had to bid or face being outgunned by the private sector.

‘This is the least worst thing we can do,' she said. ‘Why should we let the private sector have the monopoly?'

The capital's 32 PCTs are all launching GP-led health centres, but have been granted more time than their counterparts elsewhere in the country.

GP Dr Louise Irvine addresses a public protest meeting against plans to put a new polyclinic in the same building as her south east London practice GP Dr Louise Irvine addresses a public protest meeting against plans to put a new polyclinic in the same building as her south east London practice

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