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Plans for London's first five polyclinics are announced

Plans for London's first five polyclinics were announced today. The integrated health centres - in Harrow, Hounslow, Lambeth, Redbridge and Waltham Forest - are expected to be up and running in the spring next year.

According to Healthcare for London, patients in the capital currently have to wait longer to see their GP than anywhere else in the country.

The polyclinics - being developed in some of the most deprived or under-doctored parts of London - are designed to tackle this, and local people will be able to book an appointment with a GP outside of working hours or at weekends.

Within a polyclinic, Londoners could see their GP, undergo a CT scan, visit a physiotherapist, receive counselling support or housing advice - all in one visit.

And proponents say the introduction of urgent care services within a polyclinic, treating minor injuries and illnesses will reduce unnecessary trips to hospital.

"Polyclinics are a London solution to a London problem," said Ruth Carnall, NHS London Chief Executive. "They will tackle two of the biggest problems in the capital - namely, patients finding it difficult to get a GP appointment and people turning up at A&E when they should be seeing their family doctor.

"The first five polyclinics are only the beginning. They will show patients the real benefits of more convenient access to a GP and a broader range of services, which they currently would have to travel to hospital to receive."

The first schemes will include onsite diagnostics such as blood tests, CT scans and ultrasound, minor surgical procedures and long-term condition management. They will also provide community services, outpatient clinics, pharmacy and health information.

All these services are based in one location and are available to patients within networked GP practices.

In the future, Healthcare for London says, new developments could include polyclinics at the front door of a local hospital or a new build.

All 31 PCTs in the capital are currently developing plans for polyclinics, which will be introduced throughout London in the next five years.

Mr Bernell Bussue, Director, RCN London, commented: "RCN London's members will always support improvements to healthcare services providing there is a need for the service and that our vital nursing and healthcare staff are not disadvantaged by these changes. The RCN now sees opportunities for a range of nurse-led services, utilising the diverse, cost-effective range of knowledge, skills and experience that the nursing workforce has."

Healthcare for London