Labour fails on polyclinic brand

A Labour MP has compared government attempts to rebrand polyclinics to the Conservatives' experience with the poll tax.

In a parliamentary debate last week, Jim Dowd, MP for Lewisham West, London, compared references to GP-led health centres to the Thatcher government's references to the 'community charge'.

'It lost the battle, because the rest of the world called it a poll tax,' he said. 'The government is in a similar position over GP-led health centres. The whole world out there believes them to be polyclinics.'

In a separate debate, health minister Ben Bradshaw dismissed Conservative claims that the current system for providing out-of-hours care was 'fragmented and inconsistent', and said that the government would not consider forcing GPs to take back 24-hour responsibility.

'People behave and talk as if there was some golden age in which there was a wonderful out-of-hours service, but it did not exist,' he said.

'The Conservative idea of going back to the bad old days of forcing all GPs to provide out-of-hours services would be an absolute disaster.'

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