The first seven polyclinics in London open today (Wednesday 29 April 2009) and will offer GP services seven days a week 8am to 8pm, together with services normally provided at hospital, such as outpatient appointments, minor surgery, blood tests and x-rays.
Among the new polyclinics, which will also provide access to pharmacy services, is London's first purpose-built polyclinic at Loxford in Redbridge, officially opened by Health Minister Lord Darzi (pictured). The other polylinics have been set up in extensions of existing health centres and, in Hammersmith, a hospital.
Located in some of the most deprived parts of London, the polyclinics will be linked to nearby GP practices, meaning patients from these practices will also be able to use the new services.
A wide range of wellbeing and support services such as benefits and housing advice, health information and long-term conditions support for people with diabetes and asthma for example, will also be available.
People in London currently have to wait longer to see their GP than anywhere else in the country. Healthcare for London claims the introduction of the first polyclinics will provide a wider range of health and wellbeing services planned around those who need to use them, and which are open for longer.
The polyclinics are also intended to offer a solution to the problems of GP access and stretched A&E departments. A&E attendances are predicted to increase by 60% in the next 10 years, according to Healthcare for London. In a polyclinic, Londoners can get immediate attention for minor injuries and illness, and access many of the healthcare services available at hospitals.
All 31 PCTs in the capital are currently developing plans for polyclinics, and in the next five years they will be introduced throughout London.
The first seven polyclinics were opened in Hammermsith, Harrow, Hounslow, Lambeth, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.
At the launch in Redbridge, Health Minister Lord Darzi said: "This is an innovative centre, which brings valuable new services into the community, ensuring patients can receive a wider range of treatment closer to home."
Ruth Carnall, Chief Executive of NHS London, said, "Today's launch of seven polyclinics sees Lord Darzi's vision of improving healthcare for London become a reality. Polyclinics will transform primary and community care in London for the better, delivering accessible, high-quality services, which will ultimately reduce health inequalities."
She added: "Over the next couple of years, more polyclinics will open, giving more people in London a faster, more convenient and higher-quality health service."
Tom Coffey, a GP and clinical director for the polyclinics project, said: "I believe the new polyclinics provide a major leap forward in the story of London's healthcare. Polyclinics will continue to develop over time and will be evaluated to ensure they meet the needs of local people and inform the development of future polyclinics."
Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"What London does need to know is who profits from the polyclinics?" – John Worker, Islington
"NO because they will now look to close A&E at hospitals, already doing so at KGH in Ilford. Polyclincs should enhance the service we get from NHS not reduce it!" – L Sladden, Redbridge