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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Perhaps Lord Darzi should talk to Tesco

Dr Jonathan Pywell's excellent Speaker's Corner piece drew an analogy between the demise of the corner shop and the present pressures on GP surgeries.

It really brought home to me the reality of the threat to general practice. But I would be interested to know if Lord Darzi has any thoughts about why Tesco and Marks & Spencer have now started running lots of small convenience stores as well as their larger supermarkets.

Perhaps these companies have come to realise their clients value the convenience of having a shop close to where they live and an uncomplicated menu of products and services.

Let's face it, visits to the supermarket always take longer than they should to pick up some milk. It would be the same with polyclinics, and patients might turn out not to want the vast array of services available.

I hope Lord Darzi and health minister Ben Bradshaw make some inquires of Sir Terry Leahy from Tesco before we get any further insistence that primary care should be located back on the high street.

Unfortunately, politicians don't have a good track record of learning from historical mistakes.

Dr Emma Campbell, Cornwall

West Sussex PCT has just announced plans for a polyclinic based at Crawley Hospital. This is within yards of an existing practice.

The new polyclinic will be able to register up to 6,000 patients and will be open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week. But there is no shortage of GP provision here and the move is being done without any consultation.

Jeffrey Oliver, Crawley, West Sussex

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