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Health minister gives reassurances over polyclinic plans

20 May 2008

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The leading surgeon behind the government’s polyclinic plans has insisted the scheme will not mean the end of family doctor services.

Lord Darzi of Denham (pictured) said that the polyclinics would be in addition to existing services, and added that the government was investing £250m to help expand primary care services in the NHS.

“Primary care trusts are carrying out open procurements during 2008/09 for over 150 new GP-led health centres and over 100 new GP practices,” the health minister told peers at question time.

“These new services will not replace existing family doctor services, but will give the public extra access to primary care and to a range of other community-based health services.”

Conservative health spokesman Lord McColl of Dulwich, a retired professor of surgery at Guy’s Hospital in London, said that “there may well be a place for these polyclinics, especially in parts of East London”, but asked: “Does Lord Darzi realise there is a lot of very genuine concern by thousands of GPs and patients that really good general practices may be replaced by polyclinics?”

Lord Darzi replied that consultation with local clinicians, and also with the users of the service, would ensure that the scheme “does not mean closures” and “does not mean shifting GPs away from their patients”.

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“Reassured by a NuLabour minister??!! I suppose these ‘assurances’ have nothing to do with local election results – purely coinicidental timing. 0% investement in the majority of general practices over the last three years, 5% reduction in the value of QOF over the same period, proposed withdrawal of dispensing from practices, branding recycled money taken from practices to fund extended hours as new investment. Err sorry Lord Darzi, not convinced” – Richard, Lincolnshire