Labour ‘Rebranding’ Unpopular Idea

June 25, 2008

The row over Government plans to impose “polyclinics” across the Westcountry descended into farce when ministers admitted they could not even define what the clinics would do.

Health minister Ben Bradshaw told Parliament there was “no standard definition of a polyclinic” and suggested so-called health centres would do the same job.

But he appeared at odds with fellow minister Lord Darzi, who has pioneered the reforms, who insisted recently that “the health centre is very different from the polyclinic”.

Conservatives claimed the move was little more than “rebranding” by ministers caught out by the level of public opposition.

In separate parliamentary answers, Mr Bradshaw said the polyclinics and health centres would both offer “a range of health services characterised by the co-location and integration of different services, including those traditionally provided in a hospital setting”. The scope and scale of the services would also be “determined by local commissioners in collaboration with clinicians and patients to reflect local needs and circumstances”, he said.

However, the revelation left Westcountry doctors baffled. Dr Bruce Hughes, from Fremington Surgery in North Devon, said he thought polyclinics would offer more diagnostic services than a GP- led health centre, but added that both were “equally controversial among GPs”.

“My understanding of a polyclinic would be one with extended opening hours and a number of GPs in it, but probably run by a private company,” he said. “Health centres are essentially the same thing – but the subtle but fundamental difference is that polyclinics provide greater access to diagnostics.”

(c) 2008 Western Morning News, The Plymouth (UK). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

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