What service will these patients receive?

NOT to be confused with the excellent new GP practice of 6,000 patients for Worle, 'drop in' polyclinics are the result of an 'interim' report by the Health Secretary, Lord Darzi

NOT to be confused with the excellent new GP practice of 6,000 patients for Worle, 'drop in' polyclinics are the result of an 'interim' report by the Health Secretary, Lord Darzi, a London colo-rectal surgeon without any primary care or rural experience.His proposals herald sweeping changes to the national provision of primary care in the coming years. Could this be part of the NHS spending spree announced this week to avoid an embarrassing estimated £3billion surplus? Look at some facts.Polyclinics will be run by private consortia with shareholders to please. A polyclinic in Weston will open from 8am - 8pm 365 days of the year, with 500 registered patients initially, building up to 2,500 - just under the average list for one GP. Polyclinics will not be staffed full time by qualified, experienced GPs. X-rays will not be 'read' by a qualified radiologist trained to spot underlying nasties until the technology advances to send them to the hospitals. Fujitsu, the South West IT company, has pulled out of the Connecting for Health (Spine) programme. Without computerised patient records, are the floodgates for abuse of the NHS opening? Is the cart going before the horse? These clinics will attract new patients: the young, 'walking well' commuters who cannot appreciate the importance of continuity of care that is the hallmark of our excellent GPs, and money will follow them. About 80 per cent of GPs' budgets are spent on the chronic sick, elderly and very young patients who make up about 20 per cent of their lists. What standard of service will these patients receive from a polyclinic, keeping its eye on the profits?Here we have a Government directive which has the potential to squeeze out rural GPs through back door privatisation in a similar fashion to the post offices. Remove the convenient services that make them viable and they close. It is all very well to expect the GPs to be competitive but they must have a level playing field which I trust our Primary Care Trust will deliver.I do not dispute that Weston needs recognition for the sterling work that is done there and more resources are needed to back it up. I would like to see some of the £3 billionn surplus spent on drugs previously denied to cancer or early stage Alzheimer's patients, more physios to help stroke victims or those trying to leave hospital but weakened by hospital acquired CDiff, enhanced drug treatment centres and even a revamp of a film that we were shown as student nurses showing exactly how cross infection occurs, to be shown to all hospital staff. Then there might be some genuine savings, including lives, of which we can be proud.JAN MURRAY, Church Lane, Churchill

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