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Heart of Hounslow Health Centre
Petitioning against polyclinics
Doctors and patients have handed in a petition protesting against the changes being proposed to GP practices running in the capital. Campaigners warn the move will lead to creeping privatisation of health care and the end of family GPs.
Londonwide Local Medical Committees (LMCs) presented a petition signed by over 45,000 patients from across the capital today.
The group wants the government to invest in local GP services and is opposed to the idea of single site polyclinics. Dr Kambiz Boomla from Londonwide LMCs believes polyclinics are bad news. He says:
"Only 4,734 people and organisations responded to NHS London's consultation on polyclinics. Whereas 10 times as many London patients (45,000) who are actively using NHS GP surgeries, took the time to sign our petition. This says everything about how patients feel about polyclinics and the headlong rush towards the privatisation of general practice - they are quite clearly against it. Patients simply do not accept NHS London's PR spin that 'there is broad support for polyclinics', there isn't."
Eighty-one-year old Ruth Ingram says she fears privatisation will do more damage than good to the NHS, she says:
"My surgery was taken over by United Health in April, three weeks later two doctors were summarily dismissed; one of them my very able and popular doctor who has worked in the group practice for more than 18 years."
The new Heart of Hounslow Health centre which was financed in partnership with the private sector, is an emerging polyclinic in West London. At present there are 3 GP practices in the building and between them they have about 18000 patients on their lists. An additional 'walk-in' practice is imminent. The centre also offers anti natal, post natal clinics and diagnostics services amongst others.
GP-led health centres have become synonymous with one man - Lord Darzi. Speaking to Andrew Marr on Sunday am earlier this month, Lord Darzi said the health centres would provide patients with additional choice and would not replace local surgeries as many campaigners fear. He said:
"There's been a lot of confusion about this. We're talking about hundred and fifty new health centres across the country. This is additional money. This is not replacing current practices. We want patients to have the choice. Patients are telling us they want better access. These health centres will open eight to eight seven days a week. Is there anything wrong with that, being able to access your GP on a Saturday or a Sunday?"
last updated: 25/07/2008 at 16:48