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Sir Ara adviser's polyclinic fears

One of the men behind health minister Sir Ara Darzi's blueprint for GP practices has warned the proposals could ruin general practice.

Dr Tom Coffey, a GP and PEC chair in Wandsworth, south-west London, chaired one of the clinical working groups behind Sir Ara's Healthcare for London review, which has proposed shifting GPs to 50,000-patient polyclinics.

He said: 'Would I work in a practice of 50,000 patients? You have got to be joking.'

Dr Coffey has urged that the proposals, which are widely believed to have far-reaching implications for the NHS as a whole, should not involve herding GPs into giant surgeries. Instead he called for a federated, 'hub-and-spoke' model, whereby one clinic would provide services to satellite practices.

However, Sir Ara's report envisages a series of polyclinics each housing about 10 practices and 25 GPs. This week RCGP London Faculties also rejected the idea of GPs moving into polyclinics.

A joint statement from north-east London chair Dr Surendra Deo, north and west London chair Professor Paul Thomas and south London chair Dr John Spicer said: 'Evidence shows that patients want local personal care rather than being treated as a number.'

The RCGP is urging London GPs to lobby against the large site polyclinic model in favour of a more federal system.An NHS London spokesperson confirmed that although GPs would 'definitely not' be forced to move to polyclinics, the report envisaged most being based in polyclinics of up to 50,000 patients within 10 years.

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