The first fully operational new GP health centre in Bedfordshire was officially opened yesterday (Wednesday 21 January 2009) by Health Minister Lord Darzi. The Putnoe Medical Centre in Bedford will see patients from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week, as part of the government's programme to increase access to GP services.
People living in the Bedford area will be able to use the additional services provided by the Putnoe Medical Centre, while staying registered with their local family doctor. However, patients can also choose to register at the Putnoe Medical Centre if they wish to do so.
Yesterday, Lord Darzi said: "I am delighted to be opening the Putnoe Medical Centre, which will without doubt make a huge difference to people in Bedford in improving access to healthcare.
"As a key part of my recommendations in the review of the NHS, High Quality Care For All, any member of the public will be able to see a doctor or nurse between 8am and 8pm, seven days a week, while still remaining registered with their own GP.”
Chief Executive of NHS Bedfordshire, Andrew Morgan, said: "This is a service development which we are all very proud of and we are confident that this will make a considerable improvement to our patients' experience of healthcare services in Bedford.
"The development of a walk-in service at Putnoe is in direct response to the needs and wishes of our patients. It is also a key recommendation of the Department of Health to make healthcare more accessible and I am delighted that this centre in Putnoe is one of the first in the country to be offering this.”
He added: "What is also important to many patients is that the practice will continue to be run by local GPs with continued access to a GP of choice for its registered patients."
Lord Darzi toured the Putnoe Medical Centre meeting staff and patients. The health centre will provide Bedford with the additional health services it needs to meet the rising demands of its growing population such as an antenatal and postnatal care service, and minor surgery.
It will also offer a range of innovative services tailored to meet the health needs of local people, including advice on healthy living and smoking, clinics for long-term conditions such as diabetes, asthma and chronic bronchitis, coronary heart disease, and women's health and sexual health services.