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Patients join fight against polyclinics


Patients at GP surgeries in Newark are backing a national campaign to save NHS practices.

The Lombard Street surgery has collected more than 1,100 signatures on a petition opposing the idea of polyclinics.

There are 600 signatures on a similar petition at the Fountain Medical Centre, Sherwood Avenue.

The British Medical Association is campaigning to retain traditional doctors’ surgeries.

In polyclinics, or super surgeries, GPs would work alongside other health professionals.

The introduction of 250 polyclinics nationwide is being considered by the Department of Health after a recommendation by Lord Darzi, a health minister reviewing the NHS.

The association is worried that super clinics would lead to patients losing personal links with their GPs.

Members of Lombard Street’s patients’ partnership group, which provides a link between patients and GPs, have been manning a desk with the petition.

Member Mr Brian Longmate said: “We are trying to support the surgery because they always support us.”

Another member, Mr William Furze, has been attending the surgery for about 40 years. He said the surgery had a personal touch, which was important.

The group chairman, Mr Tom Smart, said he did not want to start going to doctors he did not know.

Dr Andrew Parkin, a partner at Lombard Street for 23 years, was impressed with the response from patients who wanted the traditional surgery to remain.

Dr Parkin said it would be difficult for NHS surgeries to submit tenders in time to take over polyclinics, which meant they could be run by private companies.

He said if a proper assessment was not made of where they were needed, there could be a mass exodus of patients from GP surgeries that could lead to their closure.

“If they brought in such a clinic here, they would also be getting people from out of the area with no affinity for Newark,” Dr Parkin said.

“They then do not have the incentive to develop the practice, as we have tried to do within the limits of the resources given to us by the Government.”

Dr Parkin said his surgery was proud of the personal link it provided for all patients.

He had kept in touch with many over the years and cared for generations of the same families.

“If the government planned to put as much money into extra services in GP surgeries as they were into polyclinics, we could rise to the challenge of providing those extra services,” he said.

Petitions have been signed in surgeries across the country.

They will be collated today and presented at Downing Street on Thursday.

The practice manager at the Fountain, Mr Alistair Wood, said the petition was well supported.

“Something had to be done to voice opinion. People are signing it under their own volition,” she said.

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