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Health Centres

Volume 979: debated on Wednesday 20 February 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services, further to the Minister of State's statement, Official Report, Vol. 977, col. 571, if he will name the two localities, at least, where there are unused health centres because local practitioners are refusing to practice from them; what are the reasons for this reluctance; and what conclusions he has drawn.

I should perhaps have made it clear that I was referring to empty general practitioner suites in health centres and not to empty health centres as such. I would prefer not to mention the particular health centres I had in mind since the position changes rapidly and my information may now be out of date. In the past general practitioners have been reluctant to enter new health centre premises because of planning and building delays, increases in proposed health centre running charges, fears about jeopardising their independence, and security in tenure. On other occasions, a change in the membership of the practice during the planning or building period has resulted in a change of attitude. The conclusion which I draw is that doctors should not be pressurised to enter health centres but that, where they are willing to do so, they should be fully involved in the planning process.