It's time for a healthy debate on superclinics and buy-ins

BY DORIS DALY Campaigner for elderly people in Westminster & Camden Controversy reigns supreme over the introduction of the superclinic and the buy out by multinationals of our health centres. Camden is a hot bed of discontent after an American company,

BY DORIS DALY

Campaigner for elderly people in Westminster & Camden

Controversy reigns supreme over the introduction of the superclinic and the buy out by multinationals of our health centres.

Camden is a hot bed of discontent after an American company, United Health, bought into the management of two health centres in the borough. It appears that there was no consultation at any level, just a fait accompli - take it or leave it.


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Leaving it is not really an option unless one is wealthy enough to afford private medicine. Taking it on has yet to be assessed. So what is the agenda? Will it be detrimental to health care? NHS Plc?

It all started with a certain Baron, Professor Ari Darzi of Denham KBE, one of the world's leading surgeons. Specialising in the field of minimally invasive and robot-assisted surgery and a pioneer of many such techniques and technologies, he is the master of innovation.

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He is also Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of Health and appointed to the PM Gordon Brown's "Government of all Talents" initiative, known by the unfortunate name GOATs. Here he has forged ahead to bring about change and progress for medicine in the 21st century.

The Goats separated from the sheep in one fell swoop. Under this initiative, Baron Darzi was briefed to review the plans for the future of the NHS, relating mostly to community and primary care, including GPs, working hours. He came up with the superclinic as the way for the future.

Who is this man to wield so much influence in the corridors of power? He was born in Iraq to Armenian parents who had survived the 1915 genocide of their race. They emigrated to Ireland where Ari Dharzi grew up in idyllic surroundings as a very happy and contented child.

He studied medicine in Ireland, obtained his Fellowship in surgery from the College of Sur-geons Ireland and an MD from Trinity College Dublin.

Subsequently he was granted fellowships of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, The American College of Surgeons and Physicians of Glasgow and of the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh.

A Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences and The City and Guilds of London Institute and honourary fellowship of The Royal College of Engineering soon followed.

He is Chair of Surgery at Imperial College London where he is head of the Division of Surgery, Oncology, Reproductive Biology and Anaesthetics. The awards keep coming in.

Professor Darzi's main clinical and academic interests are in minimal invasive therapy, including imaging and biological research, together with investigating methods to measure core competencies of surgery.

He is world famous for the advancement of non invasive surgery and in the use of allied technologies including surgical robots and image guided surgery.

Small wonder then that Professor Darzi made rapid progress in his profession. Not just in medicine but also in his political career.

Left of centre, he has had a long established relationship with Labour.

The Secretary of State for Health elected him to the London Modernisation Board, now the National Leadership Network, becoming advisor to the government on modernisation of the NHS and advisor in surgery to the Department of Health.

His strategy Healthcare for London - A Framework For Action is the foundation for the future controversial super clinics for primary care and health promotion.

So there you have it. The day of the GP is gone, just as the day of the Nightingale ward is gone. Hospitals as we know them are obsolete, not fit for purpose.

A whole sea change is about to sweep away the mindset of the established purveyors of health care. Their cages are being rattled and they don't like it.

The general public should examine what is on offer before they are swayed by the prophets of doom. The patient has everything to gain and nothing to lose when one considers the parlous state of the NHS .

The title Health Service is a misnomer anyway. It is in fact a service for the sick. The healthy are able to take care of themselves.

The new super clinic with modern diagnostic equipment and on the spot treatments for minor afflictions will ease the burden on casualty departments and outpatient clinics.

Advances in minimal invasive surgery will be the norm. Infection will be easier to control.

Recovery time will be shortened. Nurse practitioners will come into their own at last and remain professional hands-on nurses and not have to take a managerial job as upgrading. Accountants and clerks will do what they are trained for, to manage the paperwork.

Medics will be freed to really see and know the human being they are treating.

The 15 minute audience with a monitor and mouse during office hours only must end with walk-in superclinics to replace them.

An annual MOT for all to detect disease before it spreads is a reality. And much much more. Everything that adds to the quality and quantity of life is possible under Baron Professor Darzi's proposals.

We should welcome it. And not before time.

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