London bid for 115 polyclinics by 2011

Managers demand rapid roll-out before NHS funding tails off in 2011/12.

NHS London is to rush out 115 polyclinics in the next two years. The strategic health authority's board papers for March reveal PCTs in the capital will be forced to speed up polyclinic plans before funding drops in 2011/12.

The documents show that 115 sites have been identified but 'given the projected slowdown in NHS funding from 2011/12, NHS London will be encouraging a more rapid implementation plan to maximise use of resources available in 2009-11'.

PCTs originally planned for polyclinics to be developed over the next five to 10 years, as part of health minister Lord Darzi's Healthcare for London review.

Londonwide LMCs chief executive Dr Michelle Drage said polyclinic pilots had not been evaluated. She added that little information was available about development plans.

'We only have five pilots here in London, yet to be evaluated,' she said.

She added that some forms of development may be backed by GPs. 'If they mean practices being supported in a network, that's fine. As long as it doesn't mess up existing services for patients, we will support that.

'If it turns out to be 115 new builds and GPs taking more hits, then that's a problem.'

Dr Drage said Lord Darzi's vision for most of London's GPs to work in large polyclinics by 2015 was unrealistic and plans had changed.

There is also a shortage of suitable sites in the capital to build new health centres, she added.

NHS London now favours the 'networked' model of polyclinic where a central hub provides services for existing practices to share. It is due to make further announcements on polyclinic plans at the end of the month.

London PCTs will have to fund the new centres over the next two years as practices facing losses from changes to the prevalence formula fight for financial support. GPs in London stand to lose up to £11 million.

Dr Drage said there had been 'some movement' during negotiations to secure extra funding for badly affected practices.

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