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Polyclinics ‘inefficient use of cash’

A leading group of primary care academics has attacked the Government's plans to combine GP practices into polyclinics as an ‘inefficient' use of NHS cash and manpower.

The National Primary Care Research and Development Centre criticised Lord Darzi's review of the NHS for ignoring ‘fairly clear evidence that this is not an efficient use of NHS resources'.

A document from the centre, submitted as evidence to the all party parliamentary group inquiry into access to GPs, particularly attacked the expectation that polyclinics would employ consultants working in the community.

It cited previous experiments conducted in the polyclinic mould, which failed ‘as consultants tended to see few patients in community clinic settings and tend not to be able to supervise junior staff'.

Professor Martin Roland, director of the centre, said: ‘The idea of polyclinics has been resurrected, but I would most like to see evidenced-based policy being brought to bear in the Darzi review.'

The centre also claimed the promise polyclinics would benefit underserved areas failed to address subtle variations in deprivation.

It warned: ‘It needs to be recognised that it is not sufficient simply to allocate resources to underserved PCTs.

‘Many PCTs have heterogeneous areas within them, and past experience shows that new resources tend to go to the better served parts of such health communities.'

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