Wanstead and Woodford lined up for new super-surgeries

Posted on December 9, 2009. Filed under: News stories, Polyclinics | Tags: |

Guardian Series | By James Ranger | 9 December 2009

AFTER months of speculation, health bosses have finally revealed a choice of two sites where they want to put Wanstead and Woodford’s first super-surgery.

The sites identified for the polyclinic, where most GPs will be expected to move, are at the existing South Woodford Health Centre on the High Road or the site of the former Wanstead Hospital on Hermon Hill.

Polyclinics are to open across the UK to ease pressure on Accident and Emergency wards and offer a range of medical specialisms, GP services, and minor operations.

London’s first super-clinic opened earlier this year in Loxford but neighbours of the two proposed sites are worried about the impact they could have on an already congested area.

Denise Coe, 63, of Derby Road, drives past the health centre on her commute to work. She said: “I think the polyclinic would be a good idea, but I’m sure it would make the traffic even worse.

“Another thing they would have to improve is the parking, possibly making the car park at the back bigger. At the moment, if you want to use it you have to get down there at about 7.30 in the morning.”

Barry van Loen lives in Tempus Court, next door to South Woodford Health Centre, and represents the residents’ association.

He said: “It all depends on how busy its going to be. My wife did a survey and she voted against it, because obviously it will increase traffic around here.

“If the other site is Wanstead hospital, then surely that would be much better as its bigger and more set up to deal with parking?”

Residents can get involved in the discussions over the location of the polyclinic by volunteering to sit on the NHS Redbridge’s community panel.

For more information call Amy Burgess for details on 8926 5048.

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Super surgery ‘will not become mini poly-clinic’

Posted on September 16, 2009. Filed under: News stories, Polyclinics | Tags: |

This is South Devon | Herald Express | Torbay PCT | 16 September 2009

THE super surgery planned for Clennon Valley will not become a ‘mini hospital’, GPs behind the project have vowed.

Dr Simon Lansdown, of Grosvenor Road surgery in Paignton, told members of the Health Scrutiny Board, that the new Healthy Living Centre would not lose its personal touch.

Dr Lansdown was updating the board on the progress of the scheme which would see two Paignton surgeries in Grosvenor Road and Withycombe Lodge, merge and move onto a single site.

The Clennon Valley proposal, would cater for 8,000 patients and benefit as many as 17,500 NHS users in the Bay a year.

The new centre, which was halted after flooding issues highlighted by the Environment Agency stopped construction in 2007, would include dietitians, dentists, children services, ear specialists as well as community nurses and psychologists.

Dr Lansdown said: “I see the Clennon Valley surgery as a community care building. It’s not a mini hospital. I don’t want to work in a hospital. I like working in a GP surgery.

“I like working in my own surgery so the merger will make things difficult but it will also be easier for staff and patients to nip down the corridor to see another health worker than having to go to Torbay Hospital.

“The Healthy Living Centre will not become a mini polyclinic.”

Board members were told that the facilities, which have to undergo another design process after the possible site was moved from one end of Torbay Leisure Centre’s car park to the other, will include pay-when-you-leave car parking.

Steve Honeywill, of Torbay PCT, said: “The key is that we don’t have empty periods or any bottle necks. We will be able to make an economy of scale while keeping a personalised service.

“The intimacy between doctors and patients will remain.

“What we have to make sure is that the new facility is not underused because it is public money at the end of the day.”

Board members decided that the new project was ‘substantially different’ from that of two years ago.

They asked that before a planning application is filed, a 12-week public consultation is carried out.

Meanwhile the board was also told no suitable site had yet been found for Torquay North Healthy Living Centre.

Sue Bevis, of the PCT, told the board: “The sites we’ve looked have not been big enough or good value enough for money.

“We have decided to go down the procurement route and test the market.

“There may be developers and land owners out there who have a suitable site they would like to see developed.”

Mrs Bevis said a Prior Information Notice (PIN) would be placed in the European Journal of the European Union as well as in the local press.

She said questionnaires had also been received from Cllr Alan Faulkner canvassing the views of patients in the St Marychurch area of Torbay.

The board will be told of any update in November.

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Elderly users may be forced to vacate for £1m Kingston ‘super-surgery’

Posted on August 14, 2009. Filed under: News stories, Polyclinics | Tags: |

Surrey Comet | Mike Didymus | NHS Kingston | 14 August 2009

Elderly users of two popular day centres in Cocks Crescent, New Malden, could be forced to make way for a £1m “super-surgery”, if Kingston health chiefs have their way.

Users of the Crescent and Causeway resource centres, which provide services for people with learning and physical disabilities, have long feared they will be turfed out of the prime town centre site to make way for new housing and office developments.

Kingston Council spokesman told the Surrey Comet two weeks ago it had made no approaches, or sought expressions of interest, from potential development partners since the new development brief for the site was adopted in January.

But Kingston NHS (KNHS) announced on August 11 it was considering building a £1m polyclinic on the site, allowing patients to visit their GP, dentist and other health professionals under one roof.

KNHS said it could save £1.3m by opening the polyclinic, which it hoped would be completed between 2010 and 2011, as fewer people would need to travel to Kingston Hospital for treatment.

The development would be funded by selling off unwanted land and property around Surbiton Hospital – the council’s favoured site for constructing one of two badly needed new primary school in the borough.

Council Leader Derek Osbourne, who is also a KNHS board member, said: “We have got two facilities in one building for people with physical disabilities and adults with learning disabilities.

“It is an older, tired building that needs greater investment to produce better services, but it is an ideal location for a polyclinic.”

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Super-surgeries could require £7m property sell-off by Kingston PCT

Posted on August 11, 2009. Filed under: News stories, Polyclinics | Tags: |

Surrey Comet | News | 11 August 2009

Kingston NHS Primary Care Trust (PCT) will have to sell off up to £7m off property and land to afford its plans to build “super-surgery” polyclinics around Kingston, Surbiton and Chessington.

Health bosses including PCT chief executive David Smith are looking at opening as many as three new polyclinics, one to replace Surbiton Hospital, which could be built and opened as soon as 2011.

But to be able to afford the polyclinics, it will have to raise £8m from the private sector, and up to £7m from disposals of buildings, including £5m from land sales.

The PCT hopes to save £5.5m a year from moving to a polyclinic system as part of wider savings targets in primary care over the next seven years.

The strategic outline case, presented to the board on Tuesday, will have to be approved by NHS London before the PCT can go ahead with its plans.

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Super-surgeries could require £7m property sell-off by Kingston PCT

Posted on August 11, 2009. Filed under: News stories, Polyclinics | Tags: |

Kingston Guardian | By David Lindsell | Kingston PCT | 11 August 2009

Kingston NHS Primary Care Trust (PCT) will have to sell off up to £7m off property and land to afford its plans to build “super-surgery” polyclinics around Kingston, Surbiton and Chessington.

Health bosses including PCT chief executive David Smith are looking at opening as many as three new polyclinics, one to replace Surbiton Hospital, which could be built and opened as soon as 2011.

But to be able to afford the polyclinics, it will have to raise £8m from the private sector, and up to £7m from disposals of buildings, including £5m from land sales.

The PCT hopes to save £5.5m a year from moving to a polyclinic system as part of wider savings targets in primary care over the next seven years.

The strategic outline case, presented to the board on Tuesday, will have to be approved by NHS London before the PCT can go ahead with its plans.

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East Leeds super surgery ‘shot in arm for patients’

Posted on June 8, 2009. Filed under: LIFT, News stories | Tags: , , , |

Cross Gates Today | Published Date: 04 February 2009 | Last Updated: 03 March 2009 7:34 AM

A long-awaited super surgery in east Leeds has finally opened, with bosses vowing to make it a success.

The doors to the new 365-days a year Shakespeare Medical Practice in Burmantofts opened on Monday, March 2, with the first patient being welcomed at 9am.

The development of the medical multiplex in Cromwell Mount – on the site of the former Burmantofts Health Centre – has seen much drama with months of discussions both private and public about its viability and its impact on existing surgeries. 

However healthcare chiefs insist it will offer a convenient and flexible healthcare service in an area where need is high. 

Burmantofts is one of the most deprived areas of the city and bosses say the location of the walk-in surgery fits well with NHS Leeds’ strategy for addressing health inequalities in the city and improving access for patients. 

Dr Damian Riley, Director of Primary Care for NHS Leeds said: “Having the flexibility to provide GP appointments and a walk-in service in one centre is really good news for people in Leeds. 

“It means that those who work in the city but are registered with a GP elsewhere can see a doctor or nurse conveniently, and near to their place of work. 

“It also gives greater access to GP services out of normal hours for local people and the flexibility to make doctors’ appointments early in the morning or later in the evening.” 

The new centre offers an extended walk-in surgery which will provide all the traditional GP services for registered patients. 

But vitally, people not registered with the practice will also be able to walk in off the street and get treatment for anything from sprains, coughs and headaches to burns, bites and rashes. 

The practice, run by Care UK Clinical Services Limited, will be open from 8am to 8pm every day. 

Plans for the new super surgery have not been without controversy and concern.

Last month, councillors on the city’s healthcare scrutiny panel vowed 
to monitor it and demanded an update a month after its opening to see how the service is working. 

And last year, 100 Leeds GPs wrote to the Yorkshire Evening Post, saying the new super surgeries formula could “destabilise” existing practices. 

Burmantofts is the third walk-in health centre in Leeds, joining the existing services at The Light and Leeds General Infirmary. 

Mark Hunt, managing director of Care UK Primary Care, said: “We are delighted to be opening a new Care UK health centre at Burmantofts. We are looking forward to providing a high standard of health and care to local people, which will be easy to access and tailored to their needs.”

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Speke super surgery plans expected to get green light

Posted on June 8, 2009. Filed under: LIFT, News stories | Tags: |

Liverpool Echo | By Liza Williams | 1 April 2009

A £7m Merseyside “super surgery” is expected to be approved next week.

The new state of the art neighbourhood health centre – which incorporates several GP surgeries with services like dentistry and chiropody – is planned between North Parade and South Parade in Speke.

Plans, which are recommended for approval by council officers, include a 20m high wind turbine and three buildings, linked together with glass to form a ‘H’ shape.

Two objections have been received to the blueprint, which will go to Liverpool council’s planning committee on Tuesday.

The surgery is part of a £100m city- wide reorganisation of community healthcare, with around 25 neighbourhood centres planned.

Derek Campbell, chief executive of Liverpool PCT, said: “Securing planning permission will ensure we are a step closer to delivering even better services for Speke residents, in a state-of-the art health facility.

“The plans form part of Liverpool PCT’s wider plans for a New Health Service for Liverpool, which will see significant investment to enable enhanced services within communities as well as better facilities and equipment for patients.”

Super surgeries have proved controversial because many claim they will erode the traditional relationship between patient and GP.

The Speke surgery will open 8am-8pm Monday to Friday and 8am-6pm on Saturday.

It will offer diagnostic testing, chiropody, dental and sexual health services and a pharmacy, amongst other things.

The scheme aims to incorporate renewable energy sources through solar panels, ground source heat pumps and the wind turbine, which a local resident has objected to for noise and visual reasons.

Merseyside Cycling Campaign has objected because of an issue surrounding cycle stands.

A council report reads: “The proposed development would improve the delivery of health services in the city and would be in accordance with relevant planning policies and recommends that planning permission be granted.”

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Hampshire Health – Local GPs set to win super-surgery contract

Posted on June 8, 2009. Filed under: LIFT, News stories | Tags: , , |

Basingstoke Gazette | NHS Hampshire | Wednesday 27th May 2009

A SUPER-SURGERY offering GP and dental service to unregistered patients 365 days a year is set to open in Basingstoke.

The new Hampshire Health Care Centre in the grounds of Basingstoke hospital, scheduled to open this autumn, is being commissioned to increase out-of-hours access and it will open from 8am to 8pm seven days a week.

Health chiefs also hope to relieve pressure from the accident and emergency department by treating minor illnesses and injuries.

Hampshire Health – a team of 13 North Hampshire GP practices – has joined with a private healthcare firm Assura and Basingstoke dentist Dr Anushika Sharma to run the new centre.

Dr Christian Chilcott, a board member of Hampshire Health and partner from Oakley and Overton Surgery, said the doctors came together to make the bid so the new surgery could be run by locally based GPs.

He said: “This way we could ensure continuity of care for our patients and that their interests are put first.”

The value of the contract they will sign with NHS Hampshire was not disclosed because of “commercial confidentiality”.

Helen Clanchy, director of primary care for NHS Hampshire, said: “We are very pleased to announce plans for these services with Hampshire Health and Dr Sharma, who have each shown that they will provide a high quality service.”

Patients will still be able to see their regular GP and dentist even if they use the new centre.

It will also house a raft of other services, including vaccinations and immunisations, contraceptive services, cervical screening, maternity medical services, minor surgery and stop smoking services.

Under reforms led by health minister Lord Ara Darzi, each NHS primary healthcare trust (PCT) has to have one super-surgery.

NHS Hampshire, the commissioning branch of Hampshire PCT, chose Basingstoke because of the number of people commuting to and from the town.

It was thought that they would benefit most from a service open 12 hours a day, seven days a week, although the service is open to anyone.

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Fleet Healthcare – Super surgery plans unveiled to enhance public services

Posted on June 8, 2009. Filed under: GP-led health centres, LIFT, Press/News Releases, Providers | Tags: , , |

Gravensham Borough Council | West Kent PCT | 19 January 2009

People living in Gravesham are set to benefit from a brand new state-of-the-art super surgery, following an agreement at Gravesham Borough Council’s Cabinet meeting on Monday 12 January.

The council has agreed ‘in principle’ the sale of land in Vale Road, Northfleet, which, if a planning application is approved, will house an Equitable Access Centre, Primary Care Centre and Pharmacy.

If planning permission is granted, the centre could open in June and offer GP services including a walk-in service from 8am-8pm, seven days a week.

The centre will allow thousands more people in Gravesham to gain easier access to medical facilities during the evening and at weekends thanks to the extended surgery times, the sites accessible road and public transport links.

Leader of Gravesham Borough Council Councillor Mike Snelling said: “I see this as a very exciting project which has the potential to benefit many families in the borough.”

NHS West Kent has agreed a five-year deal with Fleet Healthcare Ltd – which is run partly by local GPs –to provide and run the new health centre to enhance patient services.

This follows a government announcement which stated it planned to invest £250m into suporting Primary Care Trusts country-wide to create at least one new GP-led health centre in each PCT area.

As the Vale Road site is currently open space, notices advertising the development are being put up and a public consultation will take place.

A planning application for Vale Road has not yet been submitted.

Ends

Notes to editor:

If planning is agreed, developers hope to split the build into two phases, with phase one being the Equitable Access Centre and the second phase being the Primary Care Centre and Pharmacy.

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New West Cumbrian Super-Surgery Will be First in England

Posted on June 8, 2009. Filed under: LIFT, News stories | Tags: |

News & Star | By Pamela McGowan Health reporter | Thursday, 21 May 2009

A group of west Cumbrian GPs have been selected to run an innovative new health centre which will be the first of its kind in England.

David Rogers

David Rogers

NHS Cumbria has agreed to build a £2 million ‘surgery with a difference’ on land at Birks Road in Cleator Moor, which could be up and running by the end of 2010.

The new centre will have much longer opening hours than existing surgeries, with clinics running for 12 hours, seven days a week. It will also provide much more than just GP appointments, with a range of specialist clinics and services being based at the centre.

It will open from 8am to 8pm, offering patients who find it difficult to access GP appointments during office hours much more flexibility.

Family doctors from the existing Flatt Walks and Beech House health centres – which already provide GP services in Whitehaven, Frizington, Egremont, and Cleator Moor – will run the new facility.

It has been set up as part of ongoing plans to improve community health services across Cumbria as part of the Closer to Home initiative. Dr Mike Bewick, NHS Cumbria’s medical director, said: “This is a major investment in the health of people in the Cleator Moor area.

“When open, the new health centre will provide dramatically improved access to GP services – providing patients with more healthcare, closer to home.”

Dr David Rogers, a GP at the Flatt Walks Health Centre, added: “Beech House and Flatt Walks are delighted to have been selected to run what will be a fantastic new health facility for the people of Cleator Moor.

“In addition to the increased access to services in Cleator Moor, the new health centre will enable us to expand the opening hours at our surgery in Frizington.”

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New super surgery plans unveiled

Posted on June 8, 2009. Filed under: LIFT, Press/News Releases | Tags: |

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council | 10 February 2009

The information contained within this release was accurate at the time of writing, 10 February 2009.

Plans for a new purpose-built medical centre, pharmacy and church for residents in a town suburb go on display this week as the result of an innovative council scheme to invest in community facilities. 

The plans for the new centre were unveiled by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council which will be building the facilities on the existing St Andrew’s Church site in South Ham. 

The council is investing £3.2million to build a brand new doctor’s surgery with seven consulting rooms, a dental practice and pharmacy, all next door to a new Methodist church with meeting rooms for the whole community. 

The council has been working very closely with the Primary Care Trust, local doctors and residents to develop this proposal to replace the out-dated and cramped surgery at Paddock Road and its satellite surgery in Hatch Warren. 

Although the council is not responsible for health services, it is working in partnership with the Primary Care Trust to make this proposal a reality. The trust can fund the healthcare services but has not got the capital for the new building from which they will be delivered. So the council has stepped in and bought the land for the new building from the church. 

Cabinet Member for Finance, Property and Performance Cllr James Lewin said: “We are using council money well to provide facilities that will bring a real benefit for the community. The new centre has the facilities to provide a 21st century service to people, and investing in this way will also bring in a satisfactory return on public money. It is a prudent use of council funds which will benefit everyone in Basingstoke.” 

The plans will be on display at the surgeries in Paddock Road, South Ham and Moorhams Avenue, Long Cross Lane, Hatch Warren until the end of the month. There will also be a two day event at St Andrews Church on the 21 and 22 February where residents will be able to view the proposals and leave their comments. The proposals will also be available online at the council’s website http://www.basingstoke.gov.uk/go/yoursay

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City’s new super-surgery now open

Posted on June 8, 2009. Filed under: LIFT, News stories | Tags: , |

Lincolnshire Echo | Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Patients unable to see their own family doctor took a trip to Lincoln’s new NHS walk-in centre.

The city’s new super-surgery at 63 Monks Road – opposite Lincoln College – opened its doors to the public yesterday.

And for the first time non-urgent patients could guarantee access to a GP between the hours of 8am and 8pm without an appointment.

One of the centre’s first visitors was Jason Marris (37), who is a registered patient at Lincoln’s Newland Health Centre.

Mr Marris, of nearby Baggholme Road, had surgery on his shoulder last week and needed a dressing changing.

“Although I am registered with a GP I would have to make an appointment with the practice nurse later in the week,” he said.

“My shoulder jars when I walk any distance so I would have to get a taxi to Newland.

“But this is perfect for me as it is round the corner and I don’t have to plan ahead to have the dressing changed.

“I walked past at the weekend and saw the sign and thought ‘brilliant’.”

The walk-in centre is designed for city workers, people not registered with a GP and visitors to Lincoln.

It is expected to attract 20,000 patients in its first year of opening.

The centre opens for 12 hours a day, seven days a week, everyday of the year with the exception of Christmas Day and Easter Sunday.

Staffed mainly by nurse practitioners, who can prescribe most drugs, a GP from the nearby Arboretum Surgery can be accessed by the centre between the hours of 8am and 2.30pm each weekday.

But between 2.30pm and 8pm on weekdays and throughout the weekend there is a GP based at the walk-in centre.

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Super-surgery just what the doctor ordered

Posted on June 8, 2009. Filed under: LIFT, News stories | Tags: , , |

Linconshire Echo | Monday, April 13, 2009

A brand new Lincoln super-surgery will make family doctors available to the public 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The proposed state-of-the-art clinic will provide a GP surgery and walk-in centre by day, and an out-of-hours GP service by night.

NHS bosses are currently looking for a suitable building in the Monks Road area of Lincoln where the facility can be launched in April 2011.

It will amalgamate the soon-to-open Lincoln NHS walk-in centre, the current Arboretum Surgery and Linmed, the out-of-hours GP service currently based at Lincoln County Hospital.

Other staff including social services workers, teams of mental health staff and physiotherapists could also work from the super-surgery.

Sue Cousland, chief operating officer for Lincolnshire Community Health Services, said that 63 Monks Road – the building from which the city’s 8am to 8pm walk-in centre will run from May 11 – will be used for other NHS purposes.

“Our preferred choice from April 2011 is to house everything under one roof and combine with the out-of-hours service,” said Mrs Cousland.

“So we’d have a building that’s open 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.

“We will tailor the services to the needs of the population and will find the right estate in the middle of Lincoln.”

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First NHS super surgery opens

Posted on June 8, 2009. Filed under: LIFT, News stories | Tags: |

Daily Mail | Last updated at 10:44 26 November 2004

The first ever so-called ‘super surgery’ for NHS patients is opening its doors to the public today.

The centre, in Newham, east London, is the first in a £1 billion wave of “super surgeries” planned to open across England.

It is part of the NHS Local Improvement Finance Trusts (LIFT) programme, where local health services and the private sector join forces to create and run facilities like the “one-stop” centres.

The Department of Health said the surgeries would offer a range of health services under one roof, including access to GPs, dentists, pharmacists, cardiology clinics and X-ray facilities.

This means many tests and treatments traditionally carried out in hospital can now be dealt with in the “super surgeries”.

Health Secretary , who was today officially opening the first centre, also announced nine new LIFT projects, adding to the the 41 currently under way.

‘Wide range of services’

The projects have focussed on the most health deprived areas with the greatest need for improved primary care services.

Dr Reid said: “These new super surgeries will provide some of the most modern family doctor facilities anywhere in the country.

“NHS patients will be able to access a wide range of services right on their doorsteps, all under one roof.

“It’s part of the largest and most sustained programmes of modernisation of primary care premises in the history of the NHS.

“This Government is determined to tackle health inequalities.

“These surgeries target new resources to the poorest communities.”

Dr Reid said the facilities would also help attract some of the finest GPs to Britain’s deprived areas where they were most needed.

The DoH has already put £195 million funding into supporting LIFT projects, which includes either the development of “super surgeries” or the building of other more modern health facilities like community hospitals.

‘Positive impact’

Michael Summer, chairman of The Patients Association, said the “super surgeries” were good for patients.

“A one-stop centre for total health care will be more convenient for patients, particularly elderly patients and those with long-term medical conditions.

“We are extremely pleased that these centres are being set up in some of the most deprived areas in England,” he said.

David Stout, chief executive of Newham Primary Care Trust, added: “We are delighted with the new health facilities we are delivering in Newham through the LIFT initiative.

“The improvements are already having a positive impact on patient experiences and will attract high quality staff to an area of London that needs them most.”

The next “super surgery” will open in Barnsley before the end of the year, with more set to open throughout 2005.

The nine new LIFT projects announced today are planned for Bury, Tameside and Glossop; Kent; Rochdale, Bolton and Heywood and Middleton; South East Midlands; South East Essex; South Midlands; Kensington and Chelsea; Wiltshire; and South West Hants.

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Pulse investigation: New health centres are GP led in name only

Posted on April 18, 2009. Filed under: GP-led health centres, News stories, Polyclinics, Providers | Tags: , |

Pulse | By Gareth Iacobucci | 4 February 2009

When Lord Darzi handed his new brand of super-surgery the name ‘GP-led health centre’ he did so because ‘polyclinic’ had by then become a dirty word.

But GP-led health centre is not proving the most apposite of names. As Pulse’s investigation this week details, many of the new centres will not be led by GPs.

‘This will be a nurse-led service,’ one provider told Pulse this week. ‘There will be a GP there all the time, but there is much more emphasis on nurse triaging.’

Across the first 17 centres to provide staffing information, there will be an average ratio of 1.3 nurses to every GP.

That is different enough from the ratio across traditional GP practices, of one nurse to every 2.4 GPs, but it masks stark variation between centres. Nurses will outnumber GPs in 10 of the 17 centres, but in three GPs will outnumber nurses.

In Sheffield PCT, there will be eight nurses and five GPs, in Eastern & Coastal Kent seven nurses and five GPs, and in Leicester eight nurses and three GPs.

It is by no means just private providers – winners of a quarter of the Darzi contracts so far – that are pushing use of nurses for traditionally GP roles.

The description of the ‘nurse-led’ centre above came not from a private company, but from local GP group Norwich Practices Ltd, which will initially be employing three GPs and 10 nurses.

Dr Richard Pannett, director of NPL, says the high nurse ratio is a deliberate move aimed at avoiding disruption to existing services by focusing the centre on walk-in rather than registered patients.

‘The registered patients are probably going to be a less important aspect. NPL was set up to try and protect local GP services. We saw there would be an element of competition if an outsider came in.’

DH tendering guidance specified the centres had to have a GP on site at all times – and a doctor in charge via some form of clinical directorship.

But our investigation suggests the traditional partner model of general practice will be almost entirely absent in the new centres.

Some 14 of the 17 centres plan a wholly salaried workforce.

During the tendering process, concerns were raised that some providers might struggle to deliver even the minimum DH requirements.

Somerset PCT analysed bids from three providers – Harmoni, Dulwich Medical Centre and Pathways Health and Social Care Alliance, which eventually won the contract.

The trust’s tendering debriefing document said: ‘Concerns were identified that both Harmoni and Dulwich Medical Centre will have a heavy reliance on locum GPs to deliver the service in the first year.

‘The staffing model proposed by Harmoni did not provide assurance that it would deliver the requirement to have a GP on site 84 hours a week.’

Harmoni – a private firm which has bid for 56 centres around the country, and has so-far won contracts for four centres – strongly rejects the suggestion that its proposed staffing models are inappropriate.

Dr Tony Snell, medical director of Harmoni, admits the company will initially employ large numbers of nurses, but insists that will change as the number of registered patients increases. ‘We will change our skill mix to meet demand,’ he says.

As well as being mostly salaried, providers have also revealed up to 80% of the GPs employed at the new centres will be registrars or GPs straight out of training.

Dr Snell says Harmoni is planning to ‘recruit and retain high quality doctors’, but admits many of those applying will be new GPs.

‘I think around 80% are within one year of coming out of their registrar year,’ he says. ‘Most of them are struggling to find partnerships.’

This trend is evident elsewhere. Dr Peter Wilczynski, a GP in Corby, Northamptonshire, whose local practice is running a new 8-8 centre in Corby, says doctors working at his centre are ‘all fairly newly qualified’.

But use of partnerships does appear to be one area where the models offered by local GPs may differ from more corporate-style providers.

A centre in Gloucestershire run by a consortium of local GPs is one of those that plans to have partners working in the centre at all times [ check – see panel].

Dr Pannett says Norwich Practices Ltd may also offer partnerships further down the line, but says it is wrong to think a salaried service will mean continuity of care is lost.

‘Although we’re starting out as salaried, I’m not quite sure whether it will stay that way. But in primary care, continuity of care is purely the amount of time you’re working, not whether you’re salaried or a partner.’

But it has been clear from the outset that providing continuity of care is not the main aim of the new centres. With 8am to 8pm, seven days a week opening hours, the availability of walk-in appointments and a far wider range of services than anything seen in traditional GP surgeries, the focus is heavily on access.

Our investigation provides evidence that the new centres will be looking to move well beyond traditional clinical care, with obesity clinics and fitness centres, physiotherapy suites and much closer integration with social services.

One centre is to have its own gymnasium. Others are to run services for the homeless population, child health surveillance services and clinics on workplace health.

Dr Phil Yates, a GP in Kingswood, Gloucestershire, said his practice’s new centre will be offering a young person’s sexual health clinic, a ‘beefing up’ of minor injury services, plus a chiropractor and aromatherapy services.

Three trusts also revealed that new clinics would be offering Zoladex hormone injection treatment for prostate and breast cancer.

‘We are very excited by it [the new centre] because we think it will be quite a step change in local provision,’ says Dr Yates.

Just how GP-led health centres will develop will become clearer over the coming months, as over 100 of the centres open up across the country.

Alan Johnson recently hailed the first of the centres to open, in Bradford, as a blueprint for the future of general practice.

If we are looking at a vision of the future, it is one dominated by extended opening, walk-in access, an integration between health and social care – and a workforce of nurses and salaried doctors.

General practice may never be the same again.

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