Darzi centre sees an average of two walk-in patients a day

GP leaders have labelled Darzi centres 'unwanted and unneeded', after a GP investigation showed a centre sees an average of just two walk-in patients each day.

One in four Darzi centres has registered fewer than 500 patients
One in four Darzi centres has registered fewer than 500 patients

Figures obtained from 95 PCTs under the Freedom of Information Act showed huge variation in the number of patients seen on a walk-in basis, with one centre seeing as few as 700 patients each year while another sees around 95,000.

It follows news that one in four Darzi centres has registered fewer than 500 patients, while one in three has registered fewer than 1,000 patients.

NHS Southampton City has the lowest number of walk-in appointments across all PCT areas. In 2010/11 the centre handled just 700 appointments, an average of two patients per day.

A total of 13 Darzi centres see fewer than 10,000 walk-in patients each year, with some of these having registered lists of less than 1,000 patients.

NHS Sefton, for example, has 250 registered patients and also sees an average of 12 walk-in patients each day.
 
But other Darzi centres are handling large volumes of walk-in appointments, with 94,704 patients seen annually by a Darzi centre in Blackpool.

NHS Norfolk also sees a large number of walk-in patients, handling 68,147 appointments last year.

But GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said the results show that the majority of Darzi centres are ‘unneeded and unwanted’. He said even where footfall was high, the care may not have been necessary.  

He said: ‘Large numbers doesn’t necessarily justify the service. People are often using the centres within a matter of hours of symptoms developing, or if they are located in the city centre patients are popping in while they are shopping. It’s disempowering patients to make self-care decisions.

‘I’m concerned about how people are being encouraged to use the centres and whether this is appropriate and sustainable.’

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