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First polyclinics in London now open

The first seven polyclinics in London open today (Wednesday 29 April2009) and will offer GP services seven days a week 8am to 8pm, togetherwith services normally provided at hospital, such as outpatientappointments, minor surgery, blood tests and x-rays.

Among thenew polyclinics, which will also provide access to pharmacy services,is London's first purpose-built polyclinic at Loxford in Redbridge,officially opened by Health Minister Lord Darzi (pictured). The otherpolylinics have been set up in extensions of existing health centresand, in Hammersmith, a hospital.

Located in some of the mostdeprived parts of London, the polyclinics will be linked to nearby GPpractices, meaning patients from these practices will also be able touse the new services.

A wide range of wellbeing and supportservices such as benefits and housing advice, health information andlong-term conditions support for people with diabetes and asthma forexample, will also be available.

People in London currently haveto wait longer to see their GP than anywhere else in the country.Healthcare for London claims the introduction of the first polyclinicswill provide a wider range of health and wellbeing services plannedaround those who need to use them, and which are open for longer.

Thepolyclinics are also intended to offer a solution to the problems of GPaccess and stretched A&E departments. A&E attendances arepredicted to increase by 60% in the next 10 years, according toHealthcare for London. In a polyclinic, Londoners can get immediateattention for minor injuries and illness, and access many of thehealthcare services available at hospitals.

All 31 PCTs in thecapital are currently developing plans for polyclinics, and in the nextfive years they will be introduced throughout London.

The first seven polyclinics were opened in Hammermsith, Harrow, Hounslow, Lambeth, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.

Atthe launch in Redbridge, Health Minister Lord Darzi said: "This is aninnovative centre, which brings valuable new services into thecommunity, ensuring patients can receive a wider range of treatmentcloser to home."

Ruth Carnall, Chief Executive of NHS London,said, "Today's launch of seven polyclinics sees Lord Darzi's vision ofimproving healthcare for London become a reality. Polyclinics willtransform primary and community care in London for the better,delivering accessible, high-quality services, which will ultimatelyreduce health inequalities."

She added: "Over the next couple ofyears, more polyclinics will open, giving more people in London afaster, more convenient and higher-quality health service."

TomCoffey, a GP and clinical director for the polyclinics project, said:"I believe the new polyclinics provide a major leap forward in thestory of London's healthcare. Polyclinics will continue to develop overtime and will be evaluated to ensure they meet the needs of localpeople and inform the development of future polyclinics."

Healthcare for London