DoH U-turn means every PCT must open a polyclinic

The DoH is insisting on every PCT opening a polyclinic by December.

GPs are concerned that surrounding practices may lose patients to polyclinics.

Originally, the 38 PCTs with the worst provision of GPs in England were earmarked for a polyclinic each and up to three new GP surgeries.

The revised DoH position contradicts health minister Ben Bradshaw who suggested that PCTs could spend the money on extended hours if they did not require a new health centre (GP, 30 November 2007).

Dr Brian Balmer, chief executive officer of Essex LMC, said PCTs 'could not say no' to the polyclinic in Harlow, west Essex. Consultation on the plans had been shelved because of the need to develop them 'lightning fast', he said.

A spokesman for West Essex PCT said: 'The way the NHS is managed means that there are these frameworks that are set nationally. We are accessing options for locations.'

Dr Balmer said it was a 'major concern all over the country' that the new wave of polyclinics will draw patients away.

The polyclinic, which will open from 8am until 8pm and offer walk-in facilities, was being rushed into a well-doctored area, which already had a walk-in centre, he said.

'If this is done in a clumsy way, we'll have too many surgeries and not enough patients.'

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