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Row over health centre proposals

Plans to replace a network of small GP surgeries in a city with
franchise-style health centres have been criticised by the British Medical Association (BMA).

The Heart of Birmingham Teaching Primary Care Trust is proposing to build 24 new premises to house more than 70 GPs as part of efforts to standardise care across the area.

The trust believes the move would offer patients a wider range of services, such as mental health advice and x-rays, while maintaining their relationships with their local GPs.

However, under the scheme doctors would be asked to sign up to a system of agreed standards to address what has been described as a “variable” quality of care across the city.

If the Birmingham GPs do not agree to the new contracts or relocating from their own surgeries, private contractors could be employed to provide medical staff instead.

The plans have been criticised by the BMA, which represents GPs.

A BMA spokeswoman said: “The Government is very keen to have care closer to the home and this is just taking it away from the home.

“They seem to think that looking after someone with a chronic disease is the same as selling a burger.”

However, primary care trust representatives defended the plans.

David Stout, PCT network director for umbrella body the NHS Confederation, said: “It is about trying to get a more standardised quality of service for patients.

“It would get patients access to a greater range of service but still offer the personal care of the practice you are registered with. It is like a one-stop shop.”

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