Changes to health services in London are long overdue but it is unclear how the latest proposals announced by London Strategic Health Authority, would improve patient care in the capital, BMA leaders claim.
Dr Tiz North, chairman of the BMA's London Regional Council, said: "There is a case for changing how some services are provided in London but doctors fear that some of these proposals may not be in the best interests of patients. The concept of care closer to patients' homes may sound appealing but polyclinics have the potential to destabilise and fragment existing hospital and GP services.
"The review points out that many GP practices do not have the facilities to take on extra work, such as diagnostics and some hospital outpatient services, so surely it would make more sense to strengthen and build on the excellent services already provided by family doctors rather than invest in new providers. It seems odd to invent a new model for healthcare when there is already a successful and proven system of general practice which is highly-rated and trusted by patients.
"There will be services that should remain concentrated at local hospitals to make the best use of expensive resources and allow for round-the-clock care.
"If this latest review is to succeed it must build on the best aspects of a service and not introduce damaging fragmentation or waste money on superficial initiatives that are designed to appeal primarily to the independent sector rather than improve health care for patients.
"The extent of consultation and dialogue with local clinicians and patients is unclear. Successful change occurs when it is clinically-led, in partnership with patients, and based on evidence that would enhance patient care. Any changes to health services must be safe, based on sound clinical evidence and be in the best interests of patients. We will need to examine the details of Professor Sir Ara Darzi's proposals to ensure these principles have been met."