Public meeting called to Save Hackney’s Surgeries amid government cuts amounting to millions

Dr Nick Mann at an SOS rally this summer.

Dr Nick Mann at an SOS rally this summer. - Credit: Archant

GPs in Hackney who stand to lose millions of pounds worth of funding want to raise awareness amongst patients that many of their practices could be forced to shut.

MP for Hackney South & Shoreditch Meg Hillier is one of the guest speakers at a public meeting organised by Save Our Surgeries (SOS) campaign group, to discuss how to defend GP surgeries from the crippling cuts.

The meeting has been called as GP surgeries across east London are reeling from a wave of cuts that mean being forced to reduce services or even close their doors.

SOS began campaigning in May when it emerged that the cuts to one funding stream – the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG) – could lead to the closure of 98 surgeries in England – 22 of them in Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets.

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 and multi-morbidity.

Following lobbying by SOS over the summer, NHS England announced a partial u-turn in August, when it set up a two-year emergency fund.

Coral Jones, GP at the London Fields Medical Centre and Honorary Secretary of City and Hackney British Medical Association said the cuts could be “just the tip of the iceberg”.

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“NHS England saved a handful of surgeries – but only for two years,” she said.

“This is very bad news for patients in Hackney and the whole of east London.

“They face losing doctors they trust, having further to travel, waiting even longer for appointments and seeing services cut to basics.

“What’s worse is GPs holding other types of funding contracts will be affected by major new cuts from next year.”

Some GPs like Nick Mann believe the government is deliberately trying to bankrupt their surgeries to pave the way for private companies to take over.

“Given that NHSE knew of the problem, they are in the best position to allocate appropriate funding, either by using rescue funds or just not destabilising practices in the first place,” he said.

“While claiming that NHSE have engaged with practices under threat to support us, there has been no proactive help from them.

“Reading between the lines it looks like NHSE are preparing us for a private health company feast: ‘GPs to be eaten alive’.”

An NHS England (London) spokesperson said: “General practice is the bedrock of the NHS and has served patients well since its foundation, but we understand the pressures it faces in a growing and changing capital.

“We have committed to providing extra financial support in 2014/15 and 2015/16 to a small number of GP practices in London that serve patients in more deprived areas and which are significantly affected by recent changes to the GP funding system.

“At the same time, we are working with leading GPs on a major programme to transform primary care services to better meet the needs of 21st century London.”

The Department for Health declined to comment.

The meeting takes place on Wednesday November 26 at 7.30pm at Lauriston Primary School in Rutland Road, South Hackney.