The NHS strategy of moving patients out of hospitals and into the community has been boosted with the announcement that 60 new GP surgeries, health centres and clinics, will open in 2006. This follows the opening of 50 similar premises in 2005.The new buildings will offer many services traditionally only found in hospitals. By including additional facilities patients will no longer have to make journeys to hospital many miles away for example to receive renal dialysis or minor surgery. Older patients and those with long-term conditions will receive care closer to home. Many of the new facilities are in the poorest areas and they will help to raise the standards of care in places where it is needed most.
The new buildings will also bring together local health services such as pharmacies, dentists, district nurses and health visitors. In some cases social services are under the same roof. Many of the sites also include other services for the community such as housing benefit advice offices, libraries, police offices, swimming pools, sports halls, gym and dance studios, and space for voluntary groups.
The building programme is funded through a national joint venture with Partnerships UK to develop and encourage a new market for investment in primary care and community based facilities and services. The joint venture company is Partnerships for Health.