The BMA have not completely dismissed Boots announcement of its plans to put surgeries into its stores — the question is whether the provision is public or private.
The health and beauty retailer is in talks with primary care trusts to base NHS hospital consultants and GP surgeries in its stores. The first consultants' clinics are likely to be tested at a Boots store in Poole, Dorset, where the retailer is reportedly close to signing an agreement with the local PCT. Orthopaedics, podiatry, physiotherapy and heart checks are expected to be among the treatments offered.
The Guardian newspaper says that prime minister Tony Blair is expected to emphasise his support for the move in a speech he is due to deliver on Wednesday in Boots' home town of Nottingham.
Dr Hamish Meldrum, chair of the BMA's GPs committee, said: 'If Boots merely intends to rent out spare space in their stores to NHS doctors, we have far fewer concerns than if the company intends to directly employ GPs and other doctors and run the surgeries itself for the NHS.
'However, we have concerns this is symptomatic of the government's agenda to increase the amount of private sector involvement in the NHS. That may lead to increasing fragmentation of the health service and adversely affect the well liked and respected continuity of care that is so much an integral part of UK general practice.'
At its annual conference earlier this year, the BMA condemned plans to open doctors' surgeries in supermarkets.
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