A SWINDON GP says plans to create a new super surgery in the town centre could put other doctors' practices at risk.

Dr Peter Swinyard, of the Phoenix Surgery in Toothill, was speaking after the Conservatives claimed four GP surgeries in the town would be under threat from Government proposals to create so-called polyclinics'.

Dr Swinyard said the new practice, proposed to replace the exisiting Carfax Street health centre, would be a polyclinic in all but name, and would result in neighbouring doctors' surgeries haemhorraging patients.

The town's Primary Care Trust says a GP-led surgery will be coming to the town centre, but strongly denied it would be a polyclinic or would lead to the closure of neighbouring surgeries.

"Swindon PCT is being forced to commit to a new practice," said Dr Swinyard.

"They will not call it a polyclinic, but it will be situated probably in the Carfax Street health centre.

"It has gone out to tender and the practice would be expected to have 9,500 patients in the next five years.

"This new practice will submerge the Daniel Gooch practice and that would take them up to 2,500 or 3,500 patients - the rest of the patients will have to come from somewhere else like the Whalebridge and Central Swindon practices.

"These are the ones most at risk, but there are other practices within a stone's throw of Carfax Street such as Park Lane and Victoria Cross and the Great Western Surgery."

And Dr Swinyard said the financial cost to surgeries in the town centre who lost patients to the new health centre would be significant.

"If you reduce the number of patients by 20 per cent, the funding those surgeries receive will fall by 15 per cent and result in a reduction in the services for existing patients," he said.

The Conservatives claim more than 600 GP surgeries nationwide will be under threat if polyclinics are given the green light.

The party says tenders are being drawn up at the request of the Department of Health by all 121 English PCTs proposing a site for a polyclinic along with a list of existing GP surgeries in the same area.

Although there would be no requirement to close surgeries, the Conservatives claim that polyclinics would inevitably take patients from existing practices, undermining their viability and potentially forcing some to shut their doors.

Caroline Fowles, chief executive of Swindon PCT said: "There are no plans for a polyclinic in Swindon and there is no threat of GP surgery closures in the town.

"We are committed to improving services and to giving people more choice in the ways they can access those services. We do have plans to develop a GP-led health centre service in central Swindon.

"A number of the PCT's own services are being included in this new service model. The service is expected to provide increased access to meet a range of needs, including working families with children and commuters.

"The service will include a GP-led walk-in centre enabling people to see a GP or nurse between 8am and 8pm, seven days a week.

"We have started a process to invite members of the public and patients to comment on how they would like to see this service develop. Further information is available on the PCT's website and is being discussed with the council's Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee tonight."

The Tories also claim 24 GP practices under Wiltshire PCT would be threatened by the polyclinic plan.

But this has been vehemently denied by the trust, which claims the Conservatives' figures are "grossly inaccurate".

Darzi's plan for health
THE new health centres, planned for every major town and city in the country, are the brainchild of Lord Darzi - the health minister and practising surgeon.

Critics, including the Conservative Party, call the proposed centres polyclinics' - a name which is not accepted by the Government.

Regardless of the name used to describe them, 150 GP-led clinics will be rolled out nationwide under Lord Darzi's proposals, which are due to be presented in full this month.

The Government says the clinics will be open 8am to 8pm seven days a week, and can be used by anyone - whether or not they are registered there. It claims that people want access to healthcare at more convenient times.

Lord Darzi's aim is to see a range of services traditionally carried out in hospitals, such as minor surgery, dermatology, diabetes care and diagnostic scans, done in these community centres.

The clinics could be equipped with a range of facilities including blood testing, X-rays and even MRI scanners.