Editorial: Polyclinic cash should be spent on practices

Ambitious plans are afoot for the roll-out of polyclinics in London. As GP reports this week, papers from NHS London's board meeting show that it has identified 115 potential polyclinics across the capital.

They also say that, given the projected slow down in NHS funding after 2011/12, 'a more rapid implementation plan' will be encouraged.

A huge number of new clinics could open in the next two years, changing the face of primary care in the capital. It is, therefore, no surprise that London GPs are worried about the future security of their practice.

If the threat of polyclinics was not enough to contend with, GPs in the capital will also be hardest hit by changes to the prevalence formula, which will see raw prevalence used to weight QOF pay from 2010/11.

Last week, GP newspaper revealed that the average London practice will receive £54,000 less for achieving 1,000 QOF points than an average practice in the North East because of the changes (GP, 17 April).

London GPs are being assailed on all sides.

Part of the problem is that practice funding does not take account of the many challenges GPs in London face, which have a major impact on their workload - the high incidence of mental health and drug problems and the high number of patients with English as a second language.

NHS London would have us believe that polyclinics are the answer to the city's health challenges. However, protest meetings across the capital have been well attended by patients, suggesting what people really want is for their existing practice to remain open and the GP-patient relationship to be maintained.

Therefore, surely the money London PCTs are about to invest in polyclinics would be better spent compensating those practices losing out on prevalence and providing extra funding so that GPs can deliver new services to meet the capital's health needs.

In fact, should this not be happening across England? Money set aside for polyclinics and GP-led health centres could be far more wisely spent within existing practices.

More opinion online
Read more opinion from the GP editorial team in the editor's blog at www.healthcarerepublic.com/blogs. This is what the team had to say this week

  • "DoH launches leadership council I'm so disappointed that Jamie Oliver missed out on membership of the new National Leadership Council for the NHS. What can Greg Dyke do for the health service that Jamie couldn't?"
  • "Do we need managers? Lord Darzi is all about quality, but perhaps that is because, given the sums Labour has lavished on the NHS, to emphasise anything else would be political suicide. Is this why the DoH is so keen on clinicians becoming managers?"

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