Dr Paul Spencer is quite right to draw attention to the scandal of money wasted on privately run clinics in the NHS. (Star 7th December)
When Shropshire County PCT first brought proposals for a Darzi clinic (also known as polyclinic, or GP-led Health Centre even Lord Darzi isn’t sure what to call them) Shropshire’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee unanimously condemned them. Shropshire has no areas that are classified as under-doctored and the unanimous view was that a new clinic in Shrewsbury was not the best way to improve services in a widespread and diverse county like Shropshire. We were told by the PCT that they had no choice: the government said that they had to introduce one of these clinics.
The government claims that their objective is to make access easier, but as your leading article points out if you make access easier then people will access the services and we cannot be surprised if they are used for trivial conditions.
We need to acknowledge that the "worried well" do need access to medical advice and that is a part of the job of GPs have been doing for years. All the Practices in Shropshire met their access targets, but if there are areas where access to a GP is difficult that should be addressed by improving the service. Shropshire’s needs are not met by introducing an unnecessary duplication of service in one location and leaving the rest of the county starved of cash for improvements.
The real government objective as outlined repeatedly by health minister Ben Bradshaw is to introduce a "diversity of providers." In plain English that means to privatise parts of the NHS.