Possible locations for more than 100 polyclinics in London, which would see approximately three in each London borough, were released today by NHS London, the capital's strategic health authority.
Polyclinics are a central part of the Healthcare for London (HfL) strategy, which aims to provide more care out of hospital and on the high street and closer to home, coupled with better specialised hospital care. Today's First Stage Report sets out the latest thinking on the delivery of the strategy over the next five years, including the roll-out of polyclinics and changes to hospital services.
London already has ten polyclinics open as part of the HfL roll-out. The Barkantine polyclinic (East London LIFT)in the Isle of Dogs for example, has GP services available 8am to 8pm seven days a week and also has a birthing centre, pharmacist, dentists, occupational therapists, community nurses and a children's centre at the same site. Rather than patients travel to hospital, the centre also offers many diagnostic services including ultrasound, endoscopy, blood pressure and heart monitoring.
Ruth Carnall, NHS London's chief executive, said:
"There has been a lot of talk over the past few months about the future of the NHS. I want to reassure Londoners that we have robust plans to deliver better services and better value for money."
"With ten polyclinics already up and running, some Londoners are already seeing the benefits of better care closer to home. With today's report, all Londoners can be confident that the NHS is working together to get this high quality care rolled out as standard over the next few years."
Dr Hasnain Abbasi is a GP working at Gracefield Gardens polyclinic (Building Better Health - Lambeth, Southwark & Lewisham LIFTCo) in Lambeth. He said: 'Patients tell us sometimes that they find it hard to quickly get an appointment to see their doctor. At Gracefield Gardens we are open 8am to 8pm to make it easier to see a GP during the evening sand at weekends and to get urgent appointments via the walk-in service. We have had excellent feedback from patients who are using the services on offer.'
Healthcare for London was drawn up by one of the country's leading surgeons Professor Lord Ara Darzi in July 2007 working with doctors and nurses across the capital. Although Londoners were consulted on the proposals contained in HfL in 2008, all of London's primary care trusts are now preparing detailed plans on implementing the strategy in their areas. To do this more efficiently and make sure services are properly joined up for patients, they are working in six geographical sectors.
North East London is already consulting over proposed changes and three further sectors will consult later in the year whilst South East London continues to implement the changes agreed in the A Picture of Health strategy. Later in the spring, NHS London will release our Integrated Strategic Plan - which will pull together more detailed plans from all London's six geographical sectors. All proposed changes will be consulted on with Londoners and local partners.
Ruth Carnall said: "The First Stage Report sets out our current thinking on the implementation of Healthcare for London. We know how much the NHS means to Londoners and we are keen that they see our current plans up front, so they are better informed when consultations start locally."
A key aim of HfL is to provide better integrated care for patients. Polysystems are central to this. Polysystems are a clinically-led model of care involving all partners - primary care, community services, social care and traditionally hospital-based services such as urgent care and diagnostics - organised in a network for the care management of the local population. The polysystem is supported by a primary care led hub at its heart - the polyclinic - which can be either community- or hospital-based. If significant financial or planning constraints for a polyclinic emerges, then better use will be made of existing facilities to give patients the same high standard of care.
The First Stage Report also sets out how Healthcare for London will be implemented in the current financial context which has tightened considerably since Lord Darzi wrote his report in 2007.