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Editorial, London, United Kingdom

Wednesday 11 Jul 2007

General hospitals to go

Editorial by WAN Editorial in London, United Kingdom
Photography: David Barbour/ Architect: BDP 
Editorial by WAN Editorial in London, United Kingdom
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Biggest shake-up of UK healthcare since National Heath formed 

Large sprawling general hospitals have been the bastion of the UK’s healthcare since the National Health system was formed after the second world war. However the new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown has unveiled radical plans for a complete overhaul only weeks after taking office.

With London’s population on the increase (forecast to reach 8.2 million by 2016), patient expectations rising and medical care advancing rapidly a new proposal by Professor Sir Ara Darzi, the new health minister forms the basis of the vision.

Currently in London there are 32 acute hospitals providing an all-round service across 93 sites. The proposal is for a ten year plan to replace the traditional hospital with around 150 “polyclinics” where services would be more specialised than that of the traditional hospital. For most people there would be a polyclinic within a mile of where they live.

The polyclinic will be a one-stop shop for visits to the GP, urgent care diagnosis, antenatal care, dentistry, mental health and even surgery. Sharon McHugh, WAN’s US correspondent commented that “Here in America, the neighbourhood hospital which is akin to the UK’s general hospitals are becoming a thing of the past. We now have smaller and specialised hospitals called “medical malls” and in general the old traditional hospitals are being bought out by larger teaching hospitals”.

In London existing hospitals will not close but instead they will be converted into treatment centres specialising in common surgery, non-complex in-patient care, day surgery and rehabilitation. Ambulances would take patients to the most suitable hospital rather than the nearest.

Main image: The new Alex Children's Hospital in Brighton designed by BDP - hospitals of this size could be a thing of the past?

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