HAYES has moved one step closer to gaining an innovative health centre after early plans for an extended polyclinic were approved.
The Hillingdon Primary Care Trust (PCT) sought permission to change the use of the vacant post office, in Station Road - next door to the HESA Primary Care Centre - at the end of 2009. This was granted at a Hillingdon Council meeting last week, paving the way for more detailed proposals to be drawn up.
The blueprints show plans for more consultation rooms, larger waiting area space and more room for administration.
Ian Adams, communications director of Hillingdon PCT, hopes the project will be completed by this time next year.
He said: "This is a significant milestone and an indication that we are pushing the project forward.
"Our vision is tied up with the long term. We want to create a central hub for the local community, in an area where there is a definite need for this type of service. The plan is that it will become the borough's main polyclinic."
There are now 10 polyclinics in the capital, and London PCTs have outlined plans for 102 in total by 2013. Eventually, the borough of Hillingdon could have three; the others would be in Uxbridge and Northwood, according to early proposals.
The Mayor of Hillingdon, Councillor Shirley Harper-O'Neill (Con), opened a new weekly tuberculosis walk-in clinic at the Hesa Centre last November, and Mr Adams said its popularity since then proves the need for easily accessible services.
"The centre has been very successful, there is a lot going on there, and in some regards we are beginning to outgrow it, which is great news," he said.
"Bringing these services to the high street has proved to be a massive success.
"It is about convenience and accessibility for our patients, and giving them a choice when it comes to the delivery of healthcare."
Opponents of polyclinics say they threaten traditional GP practices and may lead to the closure of some of them, requiring patients to travel further.
Some readers have said they fear the loss of continuity of treatment by the same GP, and worry about the 'supersizing' of services.
Just last week, Hillingdon PCT was keen to play down any suggestion that the Yiewsley health centre, planned for the site of Yiewsley swimmming pool, in Otterfield Road, would become a polyclinic. * The TB walk-in centre at the
Hesa Clinic is open on Tuesdays, 2-4.30pm. For information, call 01895 452 000, extension 3005.
* What are your thoughts on the Hesa Centre, have you been impressed by the level of service?
What do you think a polyclinic will do for Hayes' residents? Email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.