Nurses will run drop-in health clinics

A NETWORK of 19 "halfway" clinics offering patients immediate treatment for minor conditions were named by the government yesterday as the forerunners of a new style of medical care.

The walk-in centres, led by nurses, will offer treatment half-way between hospital and GP care and are intended to end the waiting for patients and take pressure off accident and emergency departments and family doctors.

The move indicates ministers' growing confidence in the capacity of nurses to provide first-line care but was criticised by doctors' leaders who said the centres were "untried and untested".

Frank Dobson, the Health Secretary, said the new centres would offer a service "when the public need it and where the public need it". About half of the first 19 announced yesterday will be in high streets, shopping centres and railway stations, others will be bolt-on clinics at hospitals and health centres. They will cost pounds 15.4m in the first year, an average of pounds 800,000 each, and will have access to doctors. In what appeared to be a deliberate snub to the British Medical Association, Mr Dobson said further centres would be announced in the autumn, all with the backing of local GPs. The department had received 99 applications from primary care groups of GPs and nurses to run them, he said.

The BMA at its annual conference last week attacked the way the centres were being introduced and called on the Government to evaluate them before spending more NHS money on expanding the scheme.

John Chisholm, chairman of the GPs' committee, said yesterday: "Doctors are worried walk-in centres may increase unnecessary demand rather than meeting appropriate need. It is absolutely vital there is a thorough evaluation of their effects on the wider NHS."

Ministers believe providing a health service with "accessibility to match modern lifestyles", as Mr Dobson put it yesterday, is a vote-winner and that nurses are the key. The walk-in centres and the nurse-run telephone advice service, NHS Direct, which is being rolled out across the country by next April, will together receive funds of up to pounds 280m over the next three years.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "Some of the things that people visit their GP for could very well be dealt with by nurses. General practice is becoming more flexible, using teams of people - not just doctors and nurses but opticians and health visitors and chiropodists."

But experts have warned that the development of a parallel service of walk-in centres alongside the GP service could damage continuity of care and undermine one of the pillars of the NHS.

The GP's role as gatekeeper to the NHS is widely seen as providing protection to patients from overtreatment and a means of curbing costs.

The Royal College of Nursing said the development of the centres "shows tremendous confidence in nurses". A spokeswoman said it was important that record-keeping linked with the patient's own practice was "very thorough".

The New Walk-in Centres

THE 19 chosen centres will be in:

A shop-front site in Bath, close to the railway and bus station

A Boots shop in New Street, Birmingham

A city centre shop in Exeter

The Old Swan shopping centre in Liverpool

Terminal 1 of Manchester airport

Next to the railway and bus stations in Swindon, Wiltshire

West End of London

Sainsbury's supermarket in Dussindale, Norwich

The High Street in Peterborough, Cambs

The Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, east London

The Edgware Community Hospital, north London

Parsons Green Health Centre, west London

Charing Cross Hospital, Fulham, west London

St George's Hospital, Tooting, south London

Newcastle General Hospital

Sheffield Hallamshire Hospital

Haywood Hospital, Stoke-on-Trent

A health centre by The Ridings Shopping Centre, Wakefield, West Yorks

York city centre

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: We are currently looking for a Geog...

Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key Stage 1

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee