Darzi clinics planned near existing practices

Poor choice of location for APMS surgeries in under-doctored areas could see existing patient lists slashed.

Practices in under-doctored areas fear financial ruin as health minister Lord Ara Darzi's reform plans are rolled out.

Under Lord Darzi's plans, each of the 50 PCTs recognised as being under doctored are racing to develop three to four new surgeries by December.

Staff in practices around Chatham, in Kent, believe redundancies will happen in existing practices as Medway PCT presses on with plans for six new APMS practices within three miles of each other.

Phillip Huxham, practice manager at Kings Family practice in Chatham, said the locality was based on speed and cost rather than clinical need.

'The worst case scenario is it will halve our practice list and halve our income,' he added.

Kent LMC clerk Dr David Barr claims the PCT chose the locations in Chatham because it already had land there and had too little time to plan for buildings in other locations.

'The practices are extremely unhappy that a new practice will be dumped on their doorstep,' he said.

'I don't know why the PCT couldn't get everyone together and say "who wants to expand their practice?"'

But a spokeswoman for Medway PCT said Chatham was chosen because patients were struggling to register with a GP and up to 8,000 extra residents are expected within six years.

Dr Relton Cummings, chair of Newcastle-upon Tyne LMC also said that two practices in his area are threatened by plans for new surgeries.

'If this was genuinely about deprivation there wouldn't have been this blanket rule where you have at least three new practices,' he said.

'PCTs could say we don't need this here, or could expand existing practices.'

Coventry LMC secretary Dr Jamie Macpherson was also concerned about three new practices planned for his area.

'Starting three new facilities from scratch doesn't make sense. It would make more sense to use the funding to develop current services,' he said.

GPs in Essex and Macclesfield have lodged similar complaints.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

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