UP to 50 family doctors' surgeries will be axed across the region under controversial plans to transform care, the Tories warned yesterday.

David Cameron said the creation of "polyclinics" - bringing together GPs, pharmacies and social care services under one roof - threatened the traditional neighbourhood doctor.

Mr Cameron said 50 practices would disappear in the North- East, under the Government's assumption that each polyclinic would be staffed by 25 GPs.

And he compared the impact with the closure of thousands of sub-post offices, a programme that has triggered protests up and down the country.

Worst hit would be Middlesbrough, Stockton, Sunderland and Gateshead, which would each lose five GP surgeries, the party calculated.

County Durham and Darlington, Hartlepool, Redcar and Cleveland, and Newcastle would also lose practices.

Every primary care trust must draw up plans for at least one polyclinic Mr Cameron said: "Communities which have lost their post office, their local shops, their local police station, are going to lose their doctor.

"So the Conservative Party will fight Labour's plans to close GP surgeries. We pledge to save the family doctor service from Gordon Brown's NHS cuts."

But Health Secretary Alan Johnson said the Tory claim was nonsense, insisting polyclinics would be extra services set up without cutting GP surgeries.

The proposal for polyclincs has divided the medical profession.

The NHS Confederation hailed their potential to improve care, but a poll found that 80 per cent of GPs feared they would undermine the personal relationship between doctor and patient.

Mr Cameron, launching his "NH-Yes" campaign, said he was not against polyclinics in principle, but insisted they should not be "imposed" on communities.

He added: "The people who need GPs the most are the elderly, those with small children and those with long-term conditions.

Those are the people least able to get to a polyclinic."

But Mr Johnson said: "We are opening 150 new GP-run health centres, open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.

"And because this programme is all paid for with new money, none of it will lead to a reduction in traditional GP services."

He also highlighted how the Tory NHS "petition" argued for GPs to be "free to determine the opening hours, size and locations of practices".

He said: "This is an astonishing admission by the Conservatives.

They are now supporting a free-for-all on opening hours, which would see an end to the evening and weekend opening which has just been secured."