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CAMHS won't see you now

New polyclinic to see two patients a day

By Steve Nowottny

Lord Darzi's new polyclinics are set to treat as few as two patients a day in their first year after opening, PCT bosses predict.

The astonishing admission that there will be next to no demand for many of the new clinics has heightened fears they will be forced to compete for patients with existing practices – forcing many to close.

Plans by Surrey PCT for its new GP-led health centre, due to open next year from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week, estimate an average of just 63 registered patient consultations a month in its first year.

Details of the Surrey centre, to be located in Spelthorne, emerged as PCTs around the country began to disclose projected patient volumes for the new polyclinics.

The Spelthorne surgery is expected to attract 900 registered patients in its first year, rising to 6,000 new patients by year five, as well as an unspecified number of walk-in patients, particularly from nearby Heathrow airport.

A PCT spokesperson said: ‘These are projected figures, based on our experiences of setting up practices previously and it taking time to build up list sizes.'

Elsewhere PCTs' estimates vary massively. The new GP-led health centres in North Somerset and Birmingham East and North are both expected to take five years to register just 2,500 patients. But in Calderdale the centre is expected to have a list of 18,000 patients. GPs are convinced that the centres, costing the Government an average of £790,000 apiece, will be forced to cut into existing practices' lists. Surrey PCT insists its centre ‘will not destabilise current provision'.

But Dr Julius Parker, chief executive of Surrey and Sussex LMCs, said GPs would be meeting this week to discuss the plans. ‘As far as I know there aren't any closed lists at all in that area,' he said. ‘There are some real concerns this could destabilise what are excellent practices.'

In Wigan, GPs warned PCT plans for several new health centres in the area, including a Darzi polyclinic, would ‘carve up' three existing practices sharing a LIFT building in the Golborne area.

Dr Abid Shahbazi, one of the affected GPs, said the PCT's plans were ‘totally misplaced', with one new centre slated for an area already served by five existing practices with open lists. ‘These people are not going to have any patients unless they entice them from us,' he said. ‘If our patients go down, gradually the income goes down.'

Help us track polyclinic plans

You can help us fight the Government's plans to impose its polyclinic model on general practice by contributing to our database on the growing threat to local practices.

Let us know what your PCT is proposing and what you think about the plans.

The database will give GPs a chance to see what is proposed across the UK and how their local plans compare with those elsewhere.

How you can fight back

Dr John Nicholls, Stanley, County Durham:
'I am a salaried GP and could easily find a job in a polyclinic – my objection is therefore not remotely self-interested. I just believe personal care and a local approach is important.'

Dr Julian Hall, Halesowen, West Midlands:
‘We need to send a message in one voice to cripple these plans.'

Dr Alistair Wilson, Penzance, Cornwall:
‘The ramifications of these changes will be monumental.'

Pulse is demanding that
• The Government gives an undertaking polyclinics will not be imposed on any local community, as this could seriously threaten continuity of care.
• Local surgeries must not be forced to close or merge to make way for polyclinics or privately-run health centres. This would destabilise general practice and force patients to travel further.
• GPs and patients must be fully consulted at a local level before significant changes are made to general practice.

We need your help
• sign our petition
• get a letter sent to your MP
• download campaign materials including a patient petition
• help us build our case by surveying patients on their views
Or email your support to

SOS: back our campaign SOS: back our campaign

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