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Polyclinics “may be waste of money”

Super-sized polyclinics may be a waste of taxpayers' money, according to a study published in the British Journal of General Practice.

It concludes that there is "very little difference in service provision" between average-sized GP practices and polyclinics catering for 30,000 patients.

Dr Hendrik Beerstecher, who runs a 1,900-patient practice in Sittingbourne, Kent, said: "I can't see the rationale behind creating very large practices. Taxpayers' money is being spent on doing these projects and I don't know if it will be value for money."

His views reflect those of the British Medical Association. A spokesman said: "The BMA has long had concerns that the compulsion to establish polyclinics in every part of the country, regardless of need, would undermine existing general practice rather than improve services for patients.

"There is much research showing that GP practices provide patients with high-quality care, and many already offer extended services to patients.

"The investment in new polyclinics should be diverted to existing services, which already have proven ability to innovate and provide an expanded range of services."

The government has begun a multi-million pound investment programme to create super surgeries to provide a range of other services alongside GPs.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

British Journal of General Practice

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"What is wrong with polyclinics? I still believe in a close doctor and patient relationship, but if I can go and see my GP and have all the treatments/services co-located in one place, would that not save money? I am sure some GPs feel threatened by this and feel that their place of importance has been eroded, but polyclinics are for the benefit of the service user. The elderly and disabled would benefit greatly from having services co-located. If the service user can have choice, I am sure that they would prefer this. On what basis is their research? Is it from the BMA perspective? What do service users say? I believe that you can still have a good relationship with your GP in a large surgery. There are some single-handed GPs who are not safe and would be best placed with other GPs. Why can't we have both small and large practices?" - Judith Nembhard, West Midlands

"I agree, we don't need polyclinics, which will take away the doctor–patient relationship." - Name and address supplied