Sainsbury’s has opened two more GP surgeries in its supermarkets this year and has urged more practices to come forward to run primary care services in its stores.
The two surgeries come after four opened in Sainsbury’s stores across the country last year, but have come up against opposition from local GPs who say the new surgeries are a ‘disaster’ for the future of the profession.
The two new surgeries are based in stores in Newton Abbot in Devon, which opened in January, and Sunderland, which opened in May.
Last year the supermarket chain gave GPs the opportunity to set up branch surgeries free of charge in its stores. By the end of 2011, there were surgeries open in four of its stores in Bath, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Greater Manchester and Lancashire.
The surgery, which will be operated by GPs at the Buckland Surgery, Newton Abbot, has a fully equipped consultation room and will offer GP consultations every Monday Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Dr Jill Millar, a GP at Buckland Surgery, said she hoped the store would make it easier for patients to do their shopping after they attended an appointment and that appointments on Mondays would be ‘useful’ for people who work during the day.
But Dr Michael Sparrow, a GP in Lifton, Devon, said the development was a bad move for the profession: ‘The minute we start leaving our independence to companies like Sainsbury’s is a disaster. I wouldn’t do it because you’re working for someone who’s in it for a profit. A group of medical people are being run by a group of non-medical people who do it to make money.
‘In all examples when the private sector move in, they cut services to make a profit. I’m very sceptical.’
David Gilder, professional services manager at Sainsbury’s, said:‘Customers have really responded well to the two latest GP surgeries to open at our stores. They really value the convenient locations, good transport links and longer opening hours that the surgeries offer.
‘I would invite any GPs out there who think a Sainsbury’s store would be a good location for a surgery to get in touch.’