Pioneering polyclinics to transform patient care across London

April 28, 2009

The first seven polyclinics in London open today providing faster, more convenient, high-quality health services for patients. Among the seven is London’s first purpose-built polyclinic at Loxford in Redbridge, officially opened by Health Minister Lord Darzi today.

The first polyclinics, located in some of the most deprived parts of London, will offer GP services seven days a week 8am to 8pm, together with services normally provided at hospital, such as outpatient appointments, minor surgery, blood tests and x-rays. They will also provide access to pharmacy services.

A wide range of wellbeing and support services such as benefits and housing advice, health information and long-term conditions support for people with diabetes and asthma for example, will also be available.

Polyclinics will offer these services within modern facilities – all in one place. The polyclinics centre will be linked to nearby GP practices and patients from these practices will also benefit from the new services.

People in London currently have to wait longer to see their GP than anywhere else in the country. The introduction of the first polyclinics will provide a wider range of health and wellbeing services planned around those who need to use them and open for longer for everyone.

Polyclinics also offer a solution to the problems of GP access and stretched A&E departments. A&E attendances are predicted to increase by 60 per cent in the next 10 years unless we improve access to local services. In a polyclinic, people in London can get immediate attention for minor injuries and illness, and access many of the healthcare services available at hospitals. Treating minor injuries and illnesses will reduce unnecessary trips to hospital.

All 31 primary care trusts (PCTs) in the capital are currently developing plans for polyclinics and in the next five years they will be introduced throughout London.

The first polyclinics have been developed according to local needs with strong local support and clinical input. The polyclinics have been developed in a variety of settings including a brand new building, an extension of existing health centres and a hospital.

All polyclinics will provide a number of core services together with a range of services that reflect local need. The first seven polyclinics will open in:

  • NHS Hammersmith & Fulham, Hammersmith Hospital – London’s first hospital-based polyclinic at Hammersmith Hospital brings a new seven-days-a-week GP surgery to the most deprived part of the borough and provides an urgent care centre for people with minor injuries and illnesses.
  • Harrow PCT, Alexandra Avenue – The health centre will now offer GP services. There will be GPs onsite seven days a week from, 8am to 8pm and walk-in, bookable appointments for both registered and unregistered patients. Ultrasound and phlebotomy services will also be extended.
  • NHS Hounslow, Heart of Hounslow – The existing health centre will offer GP services seven days a week, hospital outpatient appointments and diagnostics including breast screening. A diagnostic suite is also planned for winter 2009.
  • Lambeth PCT, Gracefield Gardens – This polyclinic will offer extended GP hours, extended access to pharmacy services, and a wide range of outpatient services including a diabetes one-stop-shop clinic.
  • NHS Redbridge, Loxford Polyclinic – This is the first purpose-built polyclinic. From mid-June, patients will benefit from the full range of polyclinic services including walk-in access to GPs, long-term conditions management, x-ray facilities and a range of other diagnostics.
  • Tower Hamlets PCT, The Barkantine – The Barkantine is a well-known centre that has continued to raise its ambition for the benefit of patients. It now also offers a wide range of services including GP services 8am to 8pm every day, and extended pharmacy access and services.
  • NHS Waltham Forest, Oliver Road – The polyclinic is situated at the Leyton Orient football ground. It will offer extended GP services, a minor injury unit, an onsite pharmacy, and diagnostics including electrocardiogram (ECG).  Further diagnostics will be introduced later in the year.

At the launch in Redbridge, Health Minister Lord Darzi said: “I am pleased to be opening Loxford Polyclinic, the first polyclinic to be launched as part of Healthcare for London’s ambitious plans to improve the quality of healthcare across London. This is an innovative centre which brings valuable new services into the community, ensuring patients can receive a wider range of treatment closer to home.”

Commenting on the new polyclinics, Ruth Carnall, Chief Executive of NHS London, said: “Today’s launch of seven polyclinics sees Lord Darzi’s vision of improving healthcare for London becomes a reality. Polyclinics will transform primary and community care in London for the better, delivering accessible, high-quality services which will ultimately reduce health inequalities.

She added: “The first polyclinics are being opened in areas which can really benefit from additional healthcare such as Hounslow, Lambeth and Redbridge. Over the next couple of years, more polyclinics will open, giving more people in London a faster, more convenient and higher-quality health service.”

Tom Coffey, a GP and Clinical Director for the polyclinics project, said: “Polyclinics are designed to make it easier for people to receive better health and social care where and when they need it. I believe the new polyclinics provide a major leap forward in the story of London’s healthcare. Polyclinics will continue to develop over time and will be evaluated to ensure they meet the needs of local people and inform the development of future polyclinics.”

Healthcare for London programme director David Sissling also welcomed today’s opening. He said: “London has the worst GP access figures in the country. Polyclinics are a vital solution in making GP and other health services more user-friendly. They will be open from 8am to 8pm every day, including weekends.”