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GPs to get a say on polyclinic plans

By Christian Duffin

Controversial plans to transfer most of London's GPs into large ‘polyclinics' - which could be a model for the rest of England - are set to be put out to consultation in November.

GPs will get a chance for the first time to comment on proposals by health minister Lord Darzi, who wants to have up to 10 polyclinics open in the capital by April 2009.

Professor Darzi argues that the locating professionals such as GPs, community services, dentists and housing consultants on one site will bring higher quality, linked up services for patients and reduce the need for hospital admissions.

Health strategists at NHS London agreed today to ask PCTs boards to formally consult on his proposals. PCTs will be asked to consider joining forces and setting up a committee to devise a single consultation for the whole of London.

NHS London agreed on a provisional timetable of November-February for a consultation.

A spokesperson for NHS London told Pulse: ‘Professor Darzi's report is not prescriptive. He recognises that some parts of London might work best with hub and spoke models rather than polyclinics. We expect that changes will be suggested in the consultation.'

Some GPs are very supportive of the polyclinic model and argue that they will bring wider range of specialist services for patients under one roof, he added.

‘GPs have come to us and said they have experienced significant benefits of working in multi-disciplinary teams.'

But other GPs believe that patients will lose the intimacy and common touch of small practices. GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman has likened the scheme to something from ‘Soviet Russia'.

Professor Darzi argues that London needs change because it has different problems to other areas of the country. HIV rates are high and there are extensive demands for services for substance misuse, mental health and strokes, he said.

NHS London has £15 million set aside to pump prime the scheme, while health minister Alan Johnson recently confirmed that the initiative could be rolled out in other parts of the country.

Lord Darzi: polyclinics plan set for consultation starting in November Lord Darzi: polyclinics plan set for consultation

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