My parents' first son was born and died in 1946, their second in 1947 and I was born with the NHS in July 1948. Sometimes we take this amazing institution for granted but, to many people, the NHS was - and is - the difference between life and death.

This month we celebrated the 60th birthday of the NHS and for me a great present would be the introduction of polyclinics across the capital and the country.

For years people have urged politicians to allow the medical professionals more of a say in the way in which we run our NHS and this has finally happened.

Ara Darzi is not only a distinguished surgeon but the first Armenian to sit in the House of Lords and he has come up with a series of proposals that will allow the NHS to move forward in a world where people want access to healthcare outside of normal office hours and treatment that a few years ago would have been only available in hospital.

A polyclinic will not replace a single GP surgery and patients will still be on the books of their own doctor but they will be able to walk in to a local clinic between 8am and 8pm seven days a week, as well as being referred by their own GP for specialist treatment that might not be available at the surgery.

GPs provide a vital service and the Government has increased investment in general practice from £3bn in 1997 to £8bn in 2007 while GP numbers have increased from 28,046 in 1997 to 33,364 in 2007 (figures for England only). GP pay has rightly increased by more than 22 per cent between 2002 and 2006.

Polyclinics replicate the best of the old cottage hospitals but make use of modern medical techniques to bring treatment closer to the patient.

It was a Conservative Secretary of State for Health who said to the British Medical Association that "whenever I talk about reform you reach for your wallets". I hope that the BMA will come to see that polyclinics are no threat to General Practice but are a modern addition to the NHS we all value so much. Happy birthday.