Family Doctor Association impressed by polyclinics

A group of GPs spent a weekend touring a polyclinic in Germany and were 'pleasantly surprised' by its findings, says the Family Doctor Association (FDA).

Dr Michael Taylor, FDA chairman, said that the nine doctors who visited Polikum Freidenau in Berlin were 'impressed at what it is trying to do'.

'With the right safeguards, polyclinics could be a useful addition to what we have here,' he added. But Dr Taylor warned that, 'if done wrong, it could be a disaster'.

The FDA found that GP services would benefit from being colocated with pharmacies and diagnostic services.

However, it argued that polyclinics should not be a replacement for existing practices, and that patients should keep their relationship with a named GP.

'The doctors in Berlin are finding that patients are saying, "I want to see my doctor",' said Dr Taylor. Without a registered list, they were also finding it hard to limit costs, he added.

The FDA also argued that no change will benefit patients without the 'goodwill' of the GPs managing it.

Polyclinics once provided all primary care in East Germany, but were abolished on reunification.

A new generation of privately run centres were introduced following the health reforms of 2004.

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

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