GP cash war of words

HEALTH chiefs in Leeds have dismissed claims that plans to establish a new 'super-surgery' will face a glaring financial black hole.

Conservative shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley claimed that proposals for new supersize polyclinics and health centres will leave a 1.4bn shortfall in public finances, unless other GP surgeries close.

But Leeds Primary Care Trust said it has already found the money to establish a new walk-in GP-led health centre in Burmantofts and denied it will replace existing surgeries.

Around 150 polyclinics are proposed in London under a plan drawn up by health minister Lord Darzi.

Outside of London each PCT has been told by Health Secretary Alan Johnson to create a GP-led health centre, which may have more GPs but not extra services planned for polyclinics.

Leeds PCT has confirmed that the Burmantofts centre will be the city's new health centre.

The Tories said if 271 new clinics were staffed with 25 GPs each, as recommended by Lord Darzi's review for London, staffing and overheads alone would be 1.66bn a year. Labour has only provided 250m funding for the programme, the Conservatives said.

But Leeds PCT told the YEP that the Burmantofts health centre will be different from – and less expensive than – the London polyclinics.

It said: "We are not developing a polyclinic in Leeds. What we are doing is refurbishing Burmantofts Health Centre and providing a new GP practice and walk-in centre to improve the range of NHS services.

"These services are additional to those provided by local GP practices, they will not replace them. Funding for the new health centre will be additional to that spent with GP practices.

"Refurbishing the health centre will cost in the region of 300,000 and this money has already been found within our existing budgets."

The Burmnatofts centre would open from 8am to 8pm, 365 days a year and initially take on 1,000 patients.

It is likely to have a walk-in centre and minor injuries unit. It could also take on some hospital services, such as physiotherapy or blood testing.

Health minister Ben Bradshaw said: "The Conservatives have either misunderstood or are deliberately misrepresenting what is happening. There are no plans to impose so-called polyclinics."

The car which caught fire. Photo: West Yorkshire Police

Leeds mum escapes car 'suddenly engulfed in flames' with six week old daughter