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PM hits back in polyclinics row

The Prime Minister has accused doctors' leaders of making "ill-founded" allegations about the future of GP services in England amid the escalating row over polyclinics.

Gordon Brown rejected the British Medical Association's privatisation claims and suggestions that existing surgeries face the axe, saying they were "completely wrong" and an "ill-founded allegation".

"The issue at the moment is about increasing access to primary care, not replacing the existing GPs," he said. "We want GPs to open longer hours and we want them to open at weekends, and if that is not possible in some cases, we want to provide other sources of medical care."

Mr Brown was commenting on the issue of polyclinics - new "supersurgeries" that will house GPs and other services such as blood tests and X-rays.

Up to 150 will appear across London over the next 10 years but the Government has also instructed every PCT in England to create a new clinic. It stressed that the new GP-led health centres are different from polyclinics, saying the London model may not work in other parts of the country.

The BMA believes practices will close as a result of the plans, with surgeries becoming unviable. It has delivered a petition with 1.2 million signatures to Downing Street calling for local GP surgeries to be protected.

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Do you agree with Gordon Brown? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"Yes. Many surgeries are inflexible with working hours. But he should also consider why it is increasingly difficult to get time off work to see a GP. An increase in occupational health nurses/drs could be another avenue. If employers won't let staff go to the GP - then they should provide one in the workplace or at least contribute to the cost of polyclinics." - Jeanne McComasky

"Agree as general practice should be flexible to working populations too and the money that's given to run is good enough to provide all emergency care too. GPs should be paid by how many patients/clients they see per day rather how many on the list." - Prabesh T, Hounslow/Ealing