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New polyclinics will spell the end for GP practices

PUBLISHED: 12:06 11 June 2008 | UPDATED: 15:08 07 September 2010

By Marc Mullen A POLYCLINIC at the Royal Free hospital will be a step closer this afternoon, sparking fears of GP surgery closures around Hampstead. Chief executives of the 31 primary care trusts which cover the capital will meet today to decide how many

By Marc Mullen

A POLYCLINIC at the Royal Free hospital will be a step closer this afternoon, sparking fears of GP surgery closures around Hampstead.

Chief executives of the 31 primary care trusts which cover the capital will meet today to decide how many pilot schemes to introduce later this year.

The decision will follow hot on the heels of a crisis meeting of Hampstead GPs and patients, who expressed fears over the likely fall-out from a mooted polyclinic at the Pond Street hospital.

Patients met practice managers from Park End Surgery on Park End, Keats Group Practice on Downshire Hill and Adelaide Medical Centre on Adelaide Road at the Park End Surgery on Monday afternoon.

Pam Gilby, chairwoman of the South End Green Association, who attended the meeting, said: "There was specific concern that if there is a polyclinic at the Royal Free it would spell the end for five practices around Hampstead.

"The fear for patients is that they will now lose the chance to visit the GP they know. This is another dent in our community - we have lost the post office, we are losing the police station and now we could lose our local GP practice."

The two other surgeries under threat from a polyclinic at the Royal Free are the Rosslyn Hill Surgery and the Hampstead Group Practice on Fleet Road. The practices declined to comment on the meeting or on polyclinics.

And the Royal Free would not say what it is doing to prepare for a polyclinic on its site.

The Ham&High has learned there is a proposal for a "virtual" polyclinic, with a "hub" at the hospital and "satellites" at the five practices.

Dr Cornel Fleming, from the Dartmouth Park Practice, said: "Polyclinics are a stupid idea and it will ruin us GPs. I am fed up with what is happening in the NHS. When we rebuilt my surgery we made sure people with wheelchairs and motorised buggies could access it - how are they going to get to a centre miles away?

"Polyclinics are a political exercise and the government will spend a lot of money, cause a lot of havoc and make patient care suffer."

There will be a three-month consultation on the exact location of any polyclinic trials.

An American private healthcare giant is already poised to take over three Camden GP practices.

Arthur Brill, a patient representative for NHS London, said: "People just don't know what polyclinics entail. In reality patients have already lost contact with their GPs, since the practices got bigger."

marc.mullen@hamhigh.co.uk


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