Health secretary Frank Dobson has approved just one in five of the bids for NHS walk-in centres.

The first wave of 19 centres, out of 91 bids, will be given£15.4m funding this year.

The successful bidders, which Mr Dobson has approved in principle, will operate direct access clinics in shopping centres, railway stations and Boots the Chemists shops.

Mr Dobson said the centres would 'offer a service to the public when the public need and where the public need it'.

The Royal College of Nursing welcomed the schemes, which will largely be staffed by nurses.

But British Medical Association GP committee chair Dr John Chisholm called for evaluation of the 'untried and untested' centres before the government expands the scheme.

Dr Ron Singer, vice-president of the Medical Practitioners' Union, said:

'There are worries about diversion of funds to the front step when the factory floor is caving in.'

The involvement of the private sector could lead to 'creeping commercialisation' of the NHS, he added.

Up to 80 bids have been made to take part in the second wave of walkin centres later this year.