Polyclinics 500m from practices

Posted on April 23, 2009. Filed under: GP-led health centres, Polyclinics |

Independent Nurse via Healthcare Republic | 16-Mar-09

Nurses have warned that GP-led health centres are duplicating services after an investigation found they were located on average just 500 metres from the nearest existing practice.

But they also said that private providers were actively recruiting staff and competition from the centres could force practices to pay more to keep their nurses.

The Independent Nurse investigation found that GP-led health centres, which are also known as polyclinics, could poach more than half a million patients from existing practices.

On average, the centres will be 500 metres from existing surgeries. This figure includes the 28 per cent of GP-led health centres which are co-located with another practice. For those that are not, the average distance to the nearest practice is 700 metres.

GP-led health centres plan to register an average of 3,800 patients within five years, data from 99 PCTs show. If each of the 152 planned centres builds a list of that size, it equates to 577,600 patients.

Some of the GP-led health centres plan to register up to 10,000 patients, despite a DoH pledge that they would offer mainly walk-in services.

In Doncaster, south Yorkshire, a 6,000-patient GP-led centre will be less than 100 yards from a practice.

RCN Nurse Practitioner Association chair Jenny Aston said: ‘It must be a duplication of services if you put another practice so close to an existing one. Is that cost-effective?’

She added that patients with long-term conditions benefit from long-term continuity of staff. ‘I’m sure patients will lose out,’ she warned.

RCN Nurse Practitioner Association member Ghislaine Young said patients want stability and continuity of care, but practices would have to be ‘competitive’. ‘Our practice has extended hours, we have extra services run by GPs with a special interest – practices have to up their game.’

She added that the centres could create a stronger ‘market’ for practice nurses: ‘If practices have to compete for you, that could be good, it could drive up salaries.’

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