PCT ordered to build 'unnecessary' health centre

London PCT compelled to build two GP-led health centres a mile apart due to DoH's hardline stance.

A London PCT is developing two APMS walk-in health centres less than a mile apart at the insistence of the DoH.

Ealing PCT is being forced to build a new GP-led health centre despite having already effectively set one up.

The West London PCT awarded a tender to NHSolutions Ltd to run the Waterside medical centre, just as the DoH announced that every PCT in England had to have a new GP-led health centre.

The specification for a GP-led health centre was so similar to the Waterside model that Ealing PCT asked the DoH if the centre could be classed as its GP-led health centre.

But the DoH has insisted that the PCT must develop an additional health centre. An existing practice, less than a mile away, will be redeveloped over the next five years.

Last month an Ealing PCT spokeswoman told GP: 'We are clarifying whether the model set out in our service specification is close enough to the DoH requirements to be acceptable.'

This week, Ealing PCT revealed that its appeal had been rejected, and it had no option but to begin another development.

Similar situations have arisen across England where polyclinics have been built on the doorstep of other suitable facilities.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said it was an inevitable consequence of a 'top-down' national policy being imposed locally.

'Unfortunately this is not unique to Ealing. Many PCTs have had similar services available for years that won't count as a GP-led health centre,' Dr Vautrey said.

'The DoH is adamant PCTs must have them, whether they need them or not, so they can deliver on a commitment. And they don't want PCTs to have any room to manoeuvre out of it.'

Earlier this year, GP reported that a new GP-led health centre is to be built just over a mile away from a brand new polyclinic which already contains all 44 GPs in Macclesfield (GP, 29 February).

A DoH spokesman said: 'The reason they couldn't simply rebrand the centre as a GP-led health centre was because it has to be additional to existing provision. So the procurement had to have started after Lord Darzi's announcement.'

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

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