The reality of polyclinics is that they have the potential to undermine proven ways of delivering quality patient care.
There may be a case for establishing a polyclinic in specific areas where local patients and clinicians agree – this is not what is happening. Across England, primary care trusts are planning to roll out polyclinics with little thought to the effect this will have on the local health service.
Older and vulnerable patients who rely on public transport could face arduous journeys to see their doctor. There is also concern that large polyclinics will depersonalise the relationship between doctor and patient.
Communications from central government to strategic health authorities make it clear that the contracts for these polyclinics are likely to be APMS contracts (Alternative Providers of Medical Services), which is the route under which private companies would provide general practice care. This commercialisation is the opposite of the personalised care which the Government espouses and which family doctors already provide.
The 'one size fits all' approach to delivering health care will not work. What works in London is unlikely to suit the needs of a rural community.
Practical and resource issues need to be resolved, and the BMA is anxious that we start productive discussions as soon as possible.
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