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Polyclinics set for national rollout

Controversial plans to replace most of London's GP surgeries with a network of polyclinics may be extended to other big cities, the new health secretary has confirmed.

In his first appearance before the health select committee, Alan Johnson told MPs he could 'see a case' for introducing the polyclinic model, outlined in the Healthcare for London report, in other major urban areas.

But he claimed the appointment of the report's author, Professor Sir Ara Darzi, to a ministerial position ­ with a remit to follow his London review with a national review ­ was an 'accident of timing'.

'London isn't the blueprint for around the country,' he said.

Mr Johnson also admitted he had never even heard of the recent abortive attempt to introduce 'supersurgeries', similar to the polyclinic model, in Warrington.

Two months ago, Warrington PCT was forced to abandon the plans after more than 21,000 patients signed a petition against plans to merge all its GPs into five giant APMS practices.

'I didn¹t know anything about it until you just mentioned it,' Mr Johnson told MPs.

Dr Laurence Buckman, the new GPC chair, said the 'pile 'em high and sell ¹em cheap polyclinic model had been 'something on the stocks for a while'.

'Now we're at the point where the agenda is quite open,' he said.

'Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.'

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