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'Polyclinic' could be on way to Thetford

PUBLISHED: 12:00 20 March 2008 | UPDATED: 21:01 07 July 2010

Minor-op patients and mums-to-be seeking ultrasound scans are among those who could be dealt with at a new walk-in 'polyclinic' in the pipeline for Thetford as part of a controversial overhaul of NHS services.

Minor-op patients and mums-to-be seeking ultrasound scans are among those who could be dealt with at a new walk-in 'polyclinic' in the pipeline for Thetford as part of a controversial overhaul of NHS services.

The government has asked all primary care trusts to look at developing so-called 'GP-led health centres', which could be run by either GPs or private providers and offer a range of specialist services under one roof, based on local needs.

Under plans being put forward by Norfolk PCT, their first centre would be set up in Norwich, while two others could follow in King's Lynn and Thetford.

Supporters believe that the specialist centres, which are the idea of health minister Lord Darzi, could help relieve pressure at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital's A&E department.

But there are fears among GPs that the scheme could drain funds and patients from local practices and would damage care. The British Medical Association has also warned the proposals could destabilise the NHS.

The Norwich facility, which is now subject to a public consultation, would open daily, from 8am to 8pm, and would replace the existing walk-in clinic at Dussindale.

Other proposed services include immunisation jabs for children and GP cover for care homes in the area. It could also include a Citizens Advice Bureau and adult social care staff.

Last month Yarmouth and Waveney PCT said they were pressing ahead with a polyclinic in Yarmouth.

Members of Norfolk PCT's board will consider the plans next week.

Ann Donkin, interim director of commissioning for NHS Norfolk, said the final decision about services offered would depend on the outcome of the consultation.

“There are core services that must be provided as part of the scheme and it is essential that there are GP-led primary medical services, along with additional enhanced services, for registered and walk-in patients,” she said. “As part of the proposals, we would therefore like to consult on moving the walk-in services from the current nurse-led Dussindale centre, while incorporating enhanced health services, into this one, central health centre for the benefit of all patients in central Norwich.”

Dr Simon Lockett, secretary of the Norfolk Local Medical Committee, queried the need for a polyclinic in the city and said the PCT should wait to see what happens in other parts of the country.

“There's a natural fear if it opens up next door your traditional GP would be under threat,” he said. “We're worried that the PCT might have been forced against their better judgement to rush into making a decision. We understand this is politically led and all PCTs have got to have one, even if there is no need or evidence.”

Andrew Stronach, spokesman for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: “It would certainly help relieve pressure on some areas of A&E.”

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