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Polyclinics plans in retreat in Britain's two biggest cities

By Steve Nowottny

Council leaders in Britain's second biggest city have rejected a series of polyclinics after a direct appeal from local GPs.

Birmingham's health overview and scrutiny committee failed to approve plans for three GP-led health centres and six new surgeries after LMC chiefs warned they would drive existing surgeries out of business.

In a parallel development, Haringey PCT moved towards a U-turn over plans to close up to 37 surgeries to make way for polyclinics, after disquiet among its local councillors.

The decisions mark the first successes in the GPC's strategy of targeting council overview and scrutiny committees as a means of overthrowing PCT plans for polyclinics.

The Birmingham committee split along party lines, with Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors refusing to green-light the proposals.

Councillor Deidre Alden, the Conservative chair of the committee, said the plans had been ‘rushed through' and would have a ‘detrimental effect on GP services across the city'.

Overview and scrutiny committees have the power to refer plans to the health secretary – although in this case the committee will discuss the topic again at its next meeting.

Birmingham LMC secretary Dr Robert Morley welcomed the committee's decision but warned polyclinic procurements were a ‘fait accompli'.

‘It might make PCTs think again, but they have to do what the Government says,' he said.

Haringey PCT board is set to remove references to specific numbers of surgery closures in its strategy, admitting the plan had ‘probably underestimated the number of spokes required'.

Councils have slammed the door on polyclinic plans Councils have slammed the door on polyclinic plans

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