Patients protest over plans for polyclinics

Cumbrian plan to merge surgeries creates transport problem, while protesters oppose London plans.

A polyclinic in Cumbria has been approved despite fears that patients will not be able to get there.

In Carlisle, where six practices will move from the town centre to a polyclinic on top of a hill, a new bus service is required to transport patients from certain wards.

But MP Eric Martlew told local paper The Cumberland News that bus operators were unsure if the route was viable. He said the NHS may have to subsidise a new bus route.

The GPC has always argued that polyclinics are not suitable for more rural areas because patients will have difficulty travelling further.

Patients writing on the local paper's website called the location of the polyclinic 'idiotic'.

'What happens to our appointments if we are late due to the buses?' one patient asked. 'Walking up the hill is not an option as most people are sick when they need a doctor's appointment.'

GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden said that the number of potential sites in a town was often very limited.

'If you do amalgamate, people will have to travel further - and you have to work out if it is worth it,' he said.

Brampton GP Dr Peter Weaving, locality lead for NHS Cumbria, said patients from deprived wards would have to get two buses, and the trust was negotiating with bus operators.

Patients across England continue to voice opposition to polyclinics. Last week patients protested in Harrow, North West London, over plans they say will threaten the future of existing practices.

Protesters have also collected more than 1,000 signatures opposing the Waldron Health Centre in New Cross, south London.In Shepherd's Bush, west London, polyclinic plans have been sent back to Hammersmith and Fulham PCT after residents complained that new housing accompanying the complex was not affordable.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

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