London may turn its back on polyclinics plan

The RCGP's federated practice market may be the choice for London as NHS opinion shifts from polyclinics.

The 'federated' polyclinic may now be NHS London's preferred model for primary care in the city, according to Londonwide LMCs.

Rather than the 'merged' model - a large health centre housing up to 25 GPs - practices would form networks and share services and information from a central 'hub'.

Dr Stewart Drage, joint chief executive of Londonwide LMCs, said: 'We've met with representatives from NHS London and they recognise that if we get practices to network it is better than letting them flounder.

'It's going to need investment to existing infrastructure, IT and management. But it's got to be cheaper than waiting for planning and all the hurdles that hold up building.'

All LMCs in London submitted responses to the consultation on the Healthcare for London: a Framework for Action proposals, which called for up to 150 polyclinics in the capital over the next decade.

Earlier this year, health minister Lord Ara Darzi told GP that the federated model would be the first rolled out in London. But since then, individual PCTs in London and across the country have begun to develop the controversial 'merged' polyclinics to house local GPs.

Dr Paddy Glackin, medical secretary for Camden LMC, where a polyclinic is being developed, said he felt NHS London was 'definitely leaning towards the federated model' after talks with Londonwide LMCs.

A spokesman for NHS London said: 'If we are going to spend £4 million on this consultation then we will make sure we listen to the responses.'

Early results expressed 'broad support' for the proposals in the framework, but the full results will not be published until May, he added.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

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