The prospect of the first 24-hour general practitioner service in the country being established at Guy's Hospital was raised by Simon Hughes MP in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
The Bermondsey & Old Southwark MP asked health minister Simon Burns whether the Department for Health knew of any existing round-the-clock GP services.
"We are not aware of any GP practices which offer services on a 24 hour basis," replied the minister.
Simon Hughes then asked: "Would the minister confirm that the department would have no objection – nor put any barrier in the way – if locally Guy's and Tommy's NHS trust and the local Southwark services wish to set up a 24-hour service at Guy's Hospital with the collaboration of the local community?"
Simon Burns replied: "As the right honourable gentleman will know it is the responsibility of the local NHS for commissioning local primary care services.
"In doing so they have got to take into account the local population and their needs.
"If the right honourable gentleman – working with the hospitals and organisations he has mentioned – has got some constructive ideas that they are going to consider, I must say I too would be personally interested to hear from him as to how they envisage doing it."
16 months ago the opening hours of the minor injuries unit at Guy's Hospital were reduced from 12 hours a day to 8 hours a day. The change was originally described as temporary but there has been no sign that the previous hours will be reinstated.
"We are currently in discussions with NHS Southwark about future plans for an urgent care centre to be based at Guy's Hospital," said a spokeswoman for Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust.
"It will be for the commissioning team at NHS Southwark to determine the exact services provided, including access to GPs in and out of hours, and we are supportive of any proposal that ensures local residents have easy access to the primary care services they require."
A spokeswoman for the Southwark business unit of NHS South East London told us that the urgent care centre is likely to open "towards the end of this financial year".
"The exact opening hours of the urgent care centre are being assessed by commissioners to ensure they are aligned to the urgent care needs of local residents and fit with other existing urgent care services," said the spokeswoman.
"It is certainly our expectation that the hours of service provision will be beyond that which is currently provided by the minor injuries unit.
"Access to general medical services may be delivered through an integration of this new service and out-of-hours GP services which would allow for cost effective round the clock provision."
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