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Over one million people say no to polyclinics

The British Medical Association has presented a petition to the Prime Minister objecting to the government's new polyclinics
The British Medical Association (BMA) has presented a petition to the Prime Minister objecting to the government's new polyclinics.

Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the BMA's GPs committee handed the Support Your Surgery petition to 10 Downing Street. It contained 1,236,085 signatures collected over a three-week period.

As part of Lord Darzi's review of the NHS, the government plans to open new-style health centres or polyclinics in every Primary Care Trust in England. The private sector is being encouraged to bid to run these new centres.

Addressing more than 400 GPs at the annual Local Medical Committee conference, Buckman said: "Voters don't want funding to move from GP practices to commercial companies who are accountable primarily to shareholders rather than patients. They want to be treated as patients, not customers."

The leader of Scotland's GPs, Dr Dean Marshall, has given his support to the campaign. In his speech at the conference he said: "General Practice in England is being ripped apart and we will do as much as possible to support our English colleagues who are suffering at the hands of a government that seeks to destroy the very cornerstone of the NHS."

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) says that these reforms will make the GP service more flexible and patient friendly.

"It is critical that the needs of patients are put first. If this means challenging poor existing provision, or bringing in new providers in areas where there are no primary care services, then so be it," said Dr Neil Bentley, the CBI's director of public services.

Accusing the BMA of 'ostrich-like denial,' Bentley claimed the new clinics would increase the range of services offered in surgeries and extend opening hours.

12th June 2008


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