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Independents' Day

Third of Darzi centres to be in temporary buildings

By Gareth Iacobucci

EXCLUSIVE: At least a third of Lord Darzi's polyclinics are set to be located in temporary buildings because PCTs have run out of time to find premises, Pulse can reveal.

One trust even plans to situate its GP-led health centre in a car park for up to three years as it searches for a suitable permanent site.

Trusts were handed with such a tight time-scale on the centres that more than half have not even decided on locations, just six months before they are due to open.

Of 40 trusts that responded to enquiries from Pulse, just 16 were able to give details of where their centres would open.

Of these, five were planning to use temporary buildings, in a desperate bid to meet DH demands for them to be up and running by 1 April.

It is a potentially huge embarrassment for the Government flagship primary care policy, with PCTs getting £800,000 a year to fund the centres.

Suffolk PCT has said it has been left with no choice but to site its Darzi centre in Haverhill in a car park, where it expects it to be for up to three years.

Martin Royal, director of business development at the PCT, said: ‘It's on a car park, but it's not going to be a portacabin and a few lights. It's very high-tech, modern, and up to current clinical standards.'

‘The only way we could achieve the deadline is if we had the infrastructure. We wouldn't expect to be in the temporary facility for more than three years.

‘There were some appropriate [permanent] sites but they were so far out of town that it was useless in terms of access for the local population. It had to be central.'

But Dr Andrew Bowen, a GP in Haverhill, said: ‘From what I hear it's going to be a portacabin in a pub car park. It doesn't sound like a great medical facility to me. I can think of better ways to spend resources.'

Of the 16 trusts with planned locations, six planned to open the centre at an existing practice, four planned to move to a hospital setting, four planned a new building and two intended to set up in walk-in centres.

GPC negotiatior Dr Peter Holden described the process as ‘a criminal waste of money'.

‘If there are no free premises in your area, what are you going to do?'

This way to the car park? PCTs' plans for Darzi centres face premises chaos This way to the car park? PCTs' plans for Darzi centres face premises chaos

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