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King’s Fund reports on “polyclinics”

A charitable UK health foundation has today published a report on the opportunities and risks of developing “polyclinics”, which have been proposed by health minister Lord Darzi.

The proposals, part of the Lord Darzi’s National Health Service (NHS) Next Stage Review, could combine such services as access to family doctors and specialists, diagnostic testing and imaging, and minor surgery.

The report by the King’s Fund focuses on one aspect of the proposals, the creation of “super surgeries”, which would involve moving existing general practitioner (GP) practices to central units.

The King’s Fund welcomed the Government’s aim to develop more patient focused and integrated care models but called for very careful implementation of the scheme.

It warned that although “super surgeries” would increase the availability of services for some patients, others, such as those living in rural areas would be adversely affected to the centralisation of GP services.

King’s Fund Chief Executive Niall Dickson said: “The polyclinic approach could be one way to redesign services around the needs of patients but we must not underestimate the amount of time, energy, and resources that would needed to make it work.

“Polyclinics may be the right answer in some areas, they will not be right for others. That should be a matter to be decided locally on a case-by-case basis using the best clinical evidence available together with a full assessment of the costs and the impact on patient access.”

King’s Fund