Darzi centres must go, say GPs

'Overindulged' Darzi centres should be scrapped and their funds redistributed to local primary care services, GP leaders have demanded.

Dr John Grenville: there would ‘always be a demand for the service’.
Dr John Grenville: there would ‘always be a demand for the service’.

Speaking at the annual conference of LMCs in London on Friday, Dr Tom Kinloch, chairman of Mid Mersey LMC, said Darzi centres had not worked.

He said that despite their multi-million pound budgets, the centres have few registered patients and duplicate work provided by GPs and out-of-hours services.

Dr Neil Bradley, a member of Wirral LMC, called the centres ‘feeble NHS chihuahuas’ that were ‘unwanted and unloved’.

He said the Wirral all-day health centre received 20 times the funding received by local practices.

‘At a time of national financial constraint is that tolerable?' he asked. 'Darzi centres are a sick dog. Its prognosis is terminal. Put them out of their misery and re-distribute the funds to local practices with proven track records.’

But Dr Elliot Singer, a member of Waltham Forest LMC, said that if Darzi centres were decommissioned, patients would be redistributed to A&E and local GPs who are ‘already straining to cope with their workloads’.

‘Yes, Darzi centres are more expensive per patient than GMS practices, but they are also open 8am to 8pm 365 days a year.  

‘Although some may not be working there are still examples of good practices that are helping the communities they serve.’

Dr John Grenville, a member of Derbyshire LMC, also warned that the services were popular in some cases and there would ‘always be a demand for the service’.

He said: ‘Are we going to ask practices to open 8am to 8pm instead? I don’t think they will thank us.’

Dr Ian Hume, a member of Norfolk LMC, said if centres were working well in some areas GPs as commissioners could recommission the centres.

The motion calling for Darzi centre funding to be redistributed to local practices was passed by the conference.

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