Polyclinics ‘threaten rural life’

Polyclinics threaten rural communities, according to a report by the King’s Fund.

Rural patients in particular will have to travel further to see their GP, without receiving any improvement in care, under the plans for the new polyclinics.

The King’s Fund report, called ‘Under One Roof’, says that the polyclinics will cost the NHS money because the services that the Government wants to feature in the polyclinics cost much more to set up outside hospitals.

Polyclinics will house up to 25 GPs, feature minor surgery facilities and x-ray machines and, according to the Conservatives, will force the closure of 1,700 of the total of 8,700 GP practices across England.

The British Medical Association (BMA) says that the polyclinics will destroy the relationship between a GP and their patients. Dr Jonathan Fielden, chairman of the BMA’s consultants committee, said that the Government must ‘dump the polyclinic plan’.

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Dr Fielden continued, saying: ‘The centrally enforced polyclinic plan holds no water, has no benefit and no financial gain.’

Niall Dickson, the King’s Fund chief executive, said: ‘For some patients access to diagnostic tests and other services, such as minor surgery, would improve under polyclinics but the impact would vary depending on how large and centralised the polyclinic would be.

‘A major centralisation of GP services into polyclinics would make it more difficult for patients to visit to their GP, especially those living in rural areas. This would be a major sacrifice.’

Nigel Edwards, policy director of the NHS Confederation, responded to the report by saying: ‘This report provides a useful and balanced review of the risks and opportunities in the polyclinic model. While polyclinics could deliver significant benefits for patients it is crucial that a “one size fits all” model is not imposed on a national level.

‘Polyclinics are not just big new buildings. Centralisation of services would not work in every area, especially rural areas.

‘Careful planning will be key to success,’ he concluded.

The King’s Fund, however, has concluded in a new report that polyclinics threaten rural communities without delivering an improvement in care.

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