Hackney councillors call on NHS for more transparency over government GP funding cuts

The protest on the steps of the Town Hall against cuts in GP surgeries

The protest on the steps of the Town Hall against cuts in GP surgeries - Credit: Archant

Hackney councillors are demanding greater transparency over cuts to GP funding, which is expected to be cut by millions over the next few years.

Ann Munn, chairman of the Health in Hackney Scrutiny Commission, has written to Neil Roberts, head of primary care for NHS England (NHSE), asking for redacted data about how many City and Hackney GP surgeries will lose out in each year of the seven years of the withdrawal of the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG).

GPs estimate that about 14 practices in City and Hackney will suffer and could be at risk of closure within the next two to three years, and not the four suggested by NHS England.

Cllr Munn wrote: “The commission believes that this data can be provided without identifying individual practices.

“As this is taxpayers’ money there is an important requirement for greater transparency here overall on the part of NHSE.

“We would add that the failure on both sides to agree on the baseline figures here is proving unhelpful and prevents a proper debate on this important issue.”

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has decided to withdraw the MPIG, which acts as a “financial buffer” for many surgeries, with nothing to compensate for the loss of income.

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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.

It is estimated that a quarter of the practices affected nationally are in Hackney, Tower Hamlets or Newham.

GPs in Hackney formed a protest on the steps of the town hall last Wednesday before a council meeting at which the MPIG was discussed.

Campaigners from Save Our Surgeries are demanding the immediate re-instatement of the MPIG, and the urgent development of an overall fairer funding formula which can replace it.

Coral Jones, chairman in Hackney of the British Medical Association, spoke at the council meeting, saying that everyone in the borough would be affected by the “crisis” cuts.

She said: “Hackney is already suffering cuts of £17million a year to health and social care, by cuts to the clinical commissioning group budget, the public health budget and council social care budgets.

“These cuts benefit places in the Home Counties at Hackney’s expense.”

Hundreds of concerned GPs marched from Tower Hamlets to London Fields earlier his month for a rally condemning the cuts which was addressed by Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington.

A spokeswoman from NHS England said it would not comment until Mr Roberts had responded personally to Cllr Munn’s letter.

The Department of Health declined to comment.