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MPs warn polyclinics will destroy GP-patient relationship

By Gareth Iacobucci

MPs have condemned the Government's polyclinic proposals as likely to destroy the relationship between doctor and patient, as the campaign against Lord Darzi's plans reached Parliament.

In an opposition day Commons debate, the Government also came in for serious criticism over its handing of recent negotiations with GPs, and was told that meddling from the centre had led to crushingly low morale in the profession.

The Conservatives put forward a motion attacking the ‘lack of empirical and clinical evidence for the establishment of polyclinics in every primary care trust'.

Nadine Dorries, Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire, told the Commons that polyclinics would lead to the erosion of the patient-doctor relationship that underpinned general practice.

She said: ‘Polyclinics will probably include Australian or other antipodean doctors, or Polish doctors. They will come and staff the clinic for six months, probably as part of their travels, and then move on. The relationship that patients have with their GPs will no longer exist.'

Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat health spokesman and MP for North Norfolk, said the Government's health policy was in ‘a state of total confusion', and that the reforms would do ‘absolutely nothing' for patients.

‘What I find both extraordinary and frustrating is that, without such empirical evidence-gathering, the system is being imposed throughout the country on a ludicrously tight time-scale,' he said. ‘The Government should be condemned for that.'

Health secretary Alan Johnson hit back at the criticism. He said: ‘Two central fallacies underpin the Tory party position. The first is that we are imposing a system of polyclinics throughout the country. We are not.

‘The second is that, if an area has a group practice or a health centre, or if GPs decide to move into much better facilities where several practices operate together, people can no longer see their own GP. That is nonsense.'

Dr Howard Stoate, Labour MP for Dartford and a practising GP, said polyclinics would ‘in many cases' be based around existing practices, which could be significantly extended or developed to with extra funding and resources.

Alan Johnson: polyclinics plans under attack by opposition MPs Alan Johnson: polyclinics plans under attack by opposition MPs

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