Government move to cut funding for 12 Hackney GP practices could have "disastrous consequences"
PUBLISHED: 16:30 09 May 2014
Ministers have been urged to set up an emergency fund to stave off the imminent closure of 100 GP practices - including the 12 believed to be in Hackney - or face "disastrous consequences".
The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has made the demand, following the announcement that the key NHS funding stream called the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG) will be phased out over the next seven years.
Introduced a decade ago, the MPIG was designed to even out the higher costs incurred by practices in deprived areas where poverty is a major cause of ill-health.
The RCGP professional body has warned changes to MPIG have the potential to destabilise the whole system of general practice, and damage both the NHS and patient safety.
It wants the government to provide an urgent injection of cash to prevent the closure of the practices most at risk, which include The Lower Clapton Group Practice, Well Street Surgery and the Lawson Practice in Hackney.
The Lower Clapton Group training surgery will lose £250,000 – the equivalent of about four doctors’ salaries - starting with £35,000 this year, and rising in £35,000 increments until 2020.
According to College members, the impact of the phasing out of MPIG is particularly catastrophic because it is taking place against the backdrop of a freefall in funding for general practice, with many practices relying on the MPIG funding stream to simply survive.
RCGP Honorary Secretary Professor Nigel Mathers said: “Without emergency funding, up to 100 practices will be forced to close, leaving 700,000 patients without a family doctor within months.
“If this is allowed to happen, it will have disastrous consequences for patients, their communities and the NHS.”
The College also wants the Government to guarantee no practice will be shut down or a single patient lose out as a result of the phasing out of MPIG.
The Gazette asked the Department of Health (DoH) whether a fund might be on the cards, but a spokeswoman did not answer the question and referred the Gazette onto NHS England. An NHS England spokeswoman said however that “any questions about a Government fund would have to be answered by the DoH”.
She added that the move to redistribute resources was about making funding “fairer across the board”.
“We have we set up a working group with the Office of London CCGs and Local Medical Committees from across the capital to support those GPs affected and consider what arrangements might be put in place to help them with the changes they will need to make,” she said.
“We have also offered to meet with the most affected practices to discuss their unique challenges and ways these may be overcome.”