TESCO and Virgin will not be allowed to run local GP services in western Cheshire, says a local NHS boss.
Helen Bellairs, chief executive of Western Cheshire Primary Care Trust, said private companies will be asked to provide buildings which will house new health centres being developed across the area.
But private companies will not be asked to tender to provide GP services within integrated resource centres being set up in Blacon, Northgate Village and Frodsham as part of a £25m scheme.
Mrs Bellairs said: “We don’t need to bring in the private sector although they might be involved in building the buildings through private finance initiatives.”
She believes it is better for ownership of the buildings to lie outside the NHS so that it is not saddled with them when the buildings are no longer “fit for purpose”.
The scheme will see some traditional doctors’ surgeries in Chester and Frodsham replaced with NHS ‘super clinics’ – known as Integrated Resource Centres – housing GPs, dentists, pharmacies and other services.
However, Mrs Bellairs stresses there will be no reduction in the number of GP surgeries across the area although not all GPs will choose to be located within them.
She said Western Avenue Medical Centre in Blacon and The Elms Surgery in Hoole had not yet decided if they wanted to be involved.
Progress is being made to develop the centres which would be based near The Parade in Blacon and Northgate Village in Chester and at the Frodsham High School site – subject to public support.
Mrs Bellairs said: “We are proposing to replace inadequate small buildings which don’t offer the full range of services with bigger buildings which do.
“But just because we are building at Northgate doesn’t mean we won’t expand Boughton, Heath Lane or even City Walls.”
The Blacon base would be a ‘GP-led’ health centre open 8am- 8pm Monday-Friday, with ‘walk-in’ services available to all western Cheshire residents 8am-8pm Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays.
Many people living in Blacon are currently registered with GP practices across the city and therefore have to travel long distances.
The centre would feature a range of preventative services for the Blacon population.
A centre in the Northgate area of Chester is intended to replace premises housing Upper Northgate Street Practice, Northgate Village Surgery, St Martin’s Clinic, The Elms Surgery and Hoole Road Surgery.
The Frodsham centre would serve people living in Frodsham, Helsby and Elton and replace premises housing the Rock Practice, the Knoll Practice and the Rock Clinic.
Currently, the preferred site is considered to be the former Frodsham High School site. Work could start on the site next summer with completion in late 2010.