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London hospitals could close

London hospitals could close under plans spelled out by a government health minister, campaigners have warned.

Professor Sir Ara Darzi proposed a network of “polyclinics” in London, creating specialist centres and changing the way hospitals are run. He is known to be a strong supporter of the Government’s aims to shift care from hospitals and closer to home – a move he says will save cash and improve services.

But the proposals have been criticised as ensuring the closure of some hospitals and destabilising existing services.

The report on the future of London’s health services was carried out before Professor Darzi became health minister for Prime Minister Gordon Brown. His proposals say that, by 2017, a network of polyclinics throughout London could provide up to 50% of outpatient treatment currently carried out in hospitals.

Hospitals would take on different roles, from local ones doing the bulk of the routine work to major acute hospitals undertaking complex and specialist work, according to the proposals. Three trauma units would take seriously injured patients.

The report, Healthcare for London, was commissioned by NHS London, the Strategic Health Authority for the capital.