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The first consultants' clinics will be tested at a Boots store in Poole, Dorset. An agreement with the local primary care trust is close to being signed and it is due to open before Christmas. Patients referred by their GPs to consultants in orthopaedics and podiatry or for healthy heart checks or physiotherapy may be offered treatment at the store.
The BBC's take on this: Boots 'aims to host NHS clinics'
Chemist giant Boots wants to introduce GPs and hospital consultants into its stores as part of the drive to bring the NHS to the high street.
Boots said it was is in talks with several local health bosses over setting up NHS diagnostic clinics and weekend GP surgeries.
It comes after ministers set out plans in January to move care away from hospitals and into the community.
Some Boots stores in London already house NHS Chlamydia-testing services.
The latest services will be run under a similar agreement, with Boots renting the space to the local primary care trust.
The move has the advantage of giving the NHS access to the high street at a favourable rate, while helping to boost the chemist chain's pharmacy business.
A Boots spokeswoman: "We are in detailed discussions. The plans vary from place to place.
"It is a great opportunity for Boots and fits with the aim of making healthcare more accessible."
However, the push to bring the NHS to the high street has met some opposition from doctors.
Some supermarkets have already expressed an interest in hosting services.
But at the British Medical Association annual conference in June doctors voted to oppose such moves, saying the sale of tobacco, alcohol and junk food would undermine the services on offer.
A BMA spokeswoman said there was concern over the latest discussions.
"We need more information about this and we would be concern if it was a move towards privatisation.
"If the GPs were employed by Boots there will be a potential conflict of interest as they are a profit-making organisation which sell pharmaceutical products.
"On the consultants side, we have to make sure there is space for sufficiently complex equipment."
A Department of Health spokesperson said: "We need to extend access to GP services and use of the private sector, including supermarkets and chemists, is just one of the ways that this could be done.
"This is entirely in line with our recent White Paper, which included proposals for making GP services easier to access and more responsive to patients, and we will be looking with interest at other innovative ideas about how to achieve this.
"For patients the most important thing is that services are free at the point of use and provide high quality care."
This sounds like Boots trying to make use of the vacant space in their shops that was left when they pulled out of healthcare in December 2004 - Poole was one of the shops involved. I've seen a number of these shops where the practice is still there, but not being used.
I'm not sure what's in it for Boots here - do they think that this will increase footfall into the shops? Are they hoping to get involved in the provision of services again? It will be interesting to see what develops.
Podiatry Service Manager
Hotter Comfort Concept
Locally I am still told there is a shortage of GP's and as our elderly doctors retire there is great difficulty recruiting new doctors to take over; to the point now where it is more likely I enter locum GP on patient record cards complimented by a trendy practice name.
Granted this locality is away from the prosperous South.
Do I assume this ultimately fits in with the Commissioning a Patient Led NHS and shift in employer responsibility?
Having worked for Boots there when it was a Podiatry & Dental clinic, then I have to say it probably won't work
One of the big reasons our the healthcare services failed along with the many reason linked to Dentistry was location within the store (usually tucked up the corner on the second floor with cards & seasonal offers), another reason was the astronomical rent we had to pay to Boots for the shop floor space ( Our services, like the opticians were actually seperate companies to Boots the chemist)
This is just another way of boots trying to fill floor space they haven't been able to utilise successfully in years. However my biggest concern would be the following issue raised by the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, Steve Webb, "The danger is there are no guarantees. What if Boots' corporate plan in five years' time says this doesn't make sense, it doesn't make money, so let's pull out. Healthcare is not a one-off transaction, it is a long-term relationship."
This is what has happened in all their previous "experiments"