GP's secrecy jibe at health centre cost

Shropshire Star 17/0709
By Dave Morris

A Shropshire GP has accused health managers of keeping secret the cost of a new walk-in health centre due to open in Shrewsbury in September.

Dr Charles West said the clinic would cost a lot to open but that Shropshire County Primary Care Trust has refused to say how much.

The centre, which will be at Whitehall, Monkmoor, will offer a wide range of services. It will open from 8am to 8pm,seven days a week.

But Dr West; Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate for Shrewsbury and Atcham, claimed a survey of such centres  around the country had shown that on average primary care trusts are spending about three times as much per patient on the privately run clinics as they spend on treating a patient in a normal general practice.

In some places they cost seven times as much.

Dr West said: "I have long been arguing that these new clinics are an unnecessary waste of money. They will cause confusion about who is actually looking after the patient and risk damaging the current local services.

Damage

"It is disgraceful to see that the NHS is repeating the mistakes it made when it spent millions of pounds trying to buy operations or X-rays from private providers.

"The NHS can ill afford to waste money on services that at best are unnecessary, and at worst will damage the NHS as we know it."

A spokeswomen for Shropshire County Primary Care Trust said the centre service had gone out to a full competitive tender to make sure that it represents best value for money for tax payers.

"While the financial details are commercially confidential at this stage, we know that the costs are comparable with those of other GP practice locally," she said.

"The new GP-led health centre will provide a valuable extra service for Shropshire patients, complementing existing services.

"It will offer longer opening hours from 8am till 8pm seven days a week, providing services for working people and others who find it hard to get to their GP in usual surgery hours, plus a minor injury service, and help with providing support on swine flu arrangements locally."

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