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In-store GPs at Sainsbury

Supermarket chain J Sainsbury has revealed plans to open GP surgeries in its stores. The company has held talks with ministers with a view to potentially establishing over 200 practices.

The move comes after the Government's Our Health, Our Care, Our Say White Paper opened the door to private providers to set up practices in competition with GPs.

A spokesman for Sainsbury's said it had a 'natural affinity' with health and was already looking at where it could house surgeries.

He also confirmed that its chief executive Justin King had met Caroline Flint, public health minister, and that the company had committed to opening at least one surgery.

Others were likely to be located in stores in deprived areas and those with a pharmacy attached, he said. Sainsbury's has 161 in-store pharmacies and plans to open 50 more.

The company would use alternative provider medical services (APMS) contracts to set up the practices and is likely to employ salaried GPs.

GPs said the in-store practices could increase health inequalities and worsen GP shortgages.

Dr Helen Alpin, a GP in Leeds, said supermarket GPs would be attractive to the middle-classes but less accessible for those with disabilities or mental health problems.

Dr Laurence Buckman, GPC deputy chair, said in-store practices would become a 'mini casualty for mums and kids'.

Tesco, Asda and Morrisons said they had no plans to set up in-store practices, but were watching with interest.

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