Patients oppose GP-led health centres

Exclusive - GP investigation finds public has 'serious concerns' about most PCTs' plans.

PCTs in England are pressing ahead with GP-led health centres on APMS contracts despite overwhelmingly negative public feedback from consultations.

Analysis of data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act found less than half of PCTs that responded (26 out of 54) are conducting a formal consultation, and even fewer will ever publish their results.

Seven out of 13 consultations seen by GP expressed concerns about GP-led health centres, and of those, four resulted in outright opposition to the plans.

Just two consultations were broadly supportive, both for schemes in deprived areas. The remaining consultations did not offer respondents the option of disagreeing with the proposal, but asked which services the new health centre should provide. Two PCTs said consultation results were confidential.

The DoH is tendering for a GP-led health centre in each of England's 152 PCTs.

The data will encourage the BMA in the next phase of its Support Your Surgery campaign, which aims to use public opposition to get local councils to block the plans.

GPC negotiator Dr Beth McCarron-Nash said: 'This shows the DoH is not listening to the public and patients. This data backs up our campaign - I think the public can see the excellent service offered by their local practice and want extra investment to be put there.

'It is helpful to know where the most upset patients are so we can get these plans overturned or at least influenced.'

Over a quarter (28 per cent) of PCTs did not undertake a health needs assessment prior to developing the new centre, to assess the best location and the impact it would have on surrounding GPs.

In Norfolk, 43 per cent of respondents disagreed with plans to move services into a health centre, while 38 per cent agreed. Some 5,616 signatures have been collected opposing the plans.

Oxfordshire PCT's consultation report admitted: 'There were significantly more people in opposition than in support.'

There was also outright opposition in North East Essex and Hereford.

West Hertfordshire PCT reported a 'lukewarm response,' and concluded the proposal was of 'limited value for the PCT area'. Worcestershire and Coventry were the other areas with serious concerns.

Polyclinic Consultations: patients' views

  • "Many respondents propose that funding should be invested in existing practices, rather than a new initiative." Coventry PCT
  • "In general, attendees at the public meeting who chose to comment on the proposals were critical. Many questions focused on general concerns about national policy, while others focused on particular local issues related to the proposal." Norfolk PCT
  • "Many people expressed their opposition to the national policy that is requiring the PCT to develop a new health centre and this was recorded. There were significantly more people in opposition than in support." Oxfordshire PCT
  •  "Respondents who would not use the service gave two main answers: 104 people felt the centre was too far away - 29 per cent of the sample; 109 people prefer their own GP - 31 per cent of the sample." Worcestershire PCT

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