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NHS call for "calm and balanced" polyclinic debate

Polyclinics will not disrupt continuity of care or undermine general practice, say the NHS Confederation who call for "common sense" to enter the medical debate.

The NHS Confederation say that polyclinics are not an initiative intended to save money, but aim to improve the quality of patient care and experiences.

They recognise, however, that polyclinics would not be appropriate in all areas of the UK and should not follow a national blueprint but be tailored to local circumstances and needs.

Nigel Edwards, director of policy at the NHS Confederation, said: "Polyclinics are based on long term trends of what works best in healthcare, and in fact there are many practices successfully operating under a similar model already.

"What we need now is a calm and balanced debate about how to bring out the best in our primary care services.

"Knee jerk reactions focusing on possible problems based on pre-existing agendas rather than potential solutions could seriously jeopardise progress for patients."

But Laurence Buckman, chairman of the British Medical Association's (BMA) GPs Committee disagrees, saying the BMA is "against the headlong rush into polyclinics or health centres that is a current feature of primary care trust activity all over the country."

He adds: "Whether called polyclinics as in London, or 'health centres', these developments have the potential to undermine long-established routes for delivering quality patient care.

"This commercialisation of patient care in the community is the very opposite of the personalised care which the government espouses and which family doctors already provide.

"Rather than being forced to create new services in this way, PCTs should be encouraged to invest in their local GP practices and support joint working between practices.

"This would deliver the goals of the Darzi Review without the risk of unnecessarily duplicating or destabilising existing services, and would undoubtedly be better value for money for the taxpayer."

NHS Confederation


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