NHS contributes millions of pounds towards Olympic polyclinic

The NHS has contributed most of the building costs for a £17m polyclinic to treat Olympic althletes in London, it has been revealed.

A state-of-the-art polyclinic that will treat up to 200 athletes a day has been unveiled at the Olympic Park.
A state-of-the-art polyclinic that will treat up to 200 athletes a day has been unveiled at the Olympic Park.

More than half of the £17m building costs for the new facility will be contributed by the NHS, with the Olympic Delivery Agency providing £6m for community costs, the BMJ has reported.

Thousands of athletes and team officials will be treated at the facility in Stratford, east London, during Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Services in the polyclinic are run by a team of 10 London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) staff, 500 volunteers and 80 specialists.

Up to three GPs, three nurses, four sports medicine doctors, six dentists and 30 physiotherapists are on duty at any one time at the clinic. A further 80 on-call specialists will be available, including cardiologists, dermatologists, orthopaedic surgeons, ophthalmologists and psychiatrists.

Two MRI scanners have been installed, paid for by private funds raised by LOCOG. There is an onsite pharmacy which operates in a similar style to a hospital outpatient dispensary. Medicines are issued at no cost to the athletes and accredited Olympic Village residents.

The polyclinic operates 24-hours a day, and expects to treat approximately 200 athletes every day. The 'emergency department' of the polyclinic expects that 95% of cases will be sprains, strains and minor illnesses and it will be able to handle 95-98% of cases itself.

The Royal London Hospital, Homerton University Hospital and University College London Hospital have been designated to handle the most serious cases that cannot be treated at the polyclinic.

The Olympic Village doping control station is co-located with the polyclinic and is the largest of the 40 stations in the UK. It operates 24 hours a day, with up to 59 staff working at peak times in the eight processing rooms.

The NHS will take over the polyclinic building after the Olympics have finished, with services expected to start in May 2013. The healthcare facility, with a full range of primary care services, will be available to the new community in East Village and residents of Newham and neighbouring areas. 

Professor Trisha Greenhalgh, a volunteering GP at the polyclinic, has said the healthcare facility will be 'the best Olympic legacy' once it is turned over to the NHS.

Dave Whittington, a GP and the primary care lead for the Olympics, said of the polyclinic: ‘We are aiming to showcase UK primary care.’

Richard Budgett, chief medical officer of LOCOG, said that the games would have no negative effect on the provision of healthcare to the general population.

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