London Fields rally to save GP surgeries at risk of closure following government funding cuts

GPs and staff at the Lower Clapton practice who are concerned about the cuts.

GPs and staff at the Lower Clapton practice who are concerned about the cuts. - Credit: Archant

MP Diane Abbott will address a rally in London Fields this Saturday, calling on the government to save the GP surgeries which face closure following millions of pounds worth of cuts.

GPs from the Save our Surgeries campaign are urging people to join them as they walk from Altab Ali Park in Whitechapel to Hackney, to demand NHS general practices are properly funded to maintain a safe service for everyone.

Over the next seven years Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will withdraw the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG), which acts as a “financial buffer” for many surgeries, with nothing to compensate for the loss of income.

The Lower Clapton Group Practice, Well Street Surgery and the Lawson Practice are understood to be among 12 in Hackney, and 98 in England, which are on a “secret” list identified by NHS England as at risk of closure, as a result of the changes introduced in April.

Nick Mann, a GP at the Well Street Surgery, where partners have already taken pay cuts and the blood sample collection service has been axed, believes the situation is “looking really really dire”.

“They’ve made it clear they are going to let general practice sink, just as they have let hospitals sink,” he said.

“The Department of Health (DH) is refusing to engage, instead deflecting responsibility to NHS England, which itself has a £8 billion deficit - and so has no money to support practices at risk.”

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Dr Mann believes the government’s objective is to privatise GP surgeries.

“The refusal by DH to handle this crisis of their own making looks like a deliberate attempt to run down general practice, to the extent that patients will become dissatisfied and therefore be more ready to accept the privatisation of general practices,” he said.

“Research has repeatedly shown that costs under privatisation actually increase and health services for patients fragment and deteriorate.

He continued: “This government continues with its plans to privatise the NHS, despite the most recent evidence showing that the NHS is the best performing health service in the world, while the privatised American health service is the worst.”

An NHS England spokesman said: “The changes are part of a national policy to bring all practices into an equal financial position, which will ensure that all patients can expect the same high level of service from their GP where ever they live.”

“The majority of GP practices in London will receive more funding in their global sum as a result of these changes, but some will receive less.”

The Department of Health declined to comment.

The walk will begin in Altab Ali Park, Tower Hamlets at 2pm and end with the rally in London Fields from 3.45pm.