Halt the withdrawal of MPIG before NHS GP surgeries close, and provide fairer funding for practices serving complex and needy patient populations.
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THE WITHDRAWAL OF MPIG IS THREATENING MANY GP SURGERIES WITH BANKRUPTCY AND CLOSURE, POTENTIALLY AFFECTING 700,000 PATIENTS. TYPICALLY THE WORST AFFECTED PRACTICES ARE THOSE SERVING COMPLEX AND NEEDY OR DISADVANTAGED POPULATIONS. THE WITHDRAWAL OF MPIG MUST BE HALTED NOW TO PREVENT GP SURGERY CLOSURES AND ALLOW A FAIR ALTERNATIVE TO BE DEVELOPED.
In 2004 the government changed the funding formula for GP surgeries and didn't take account of the fact that in deprived areas people have higher health needs. Many practices would have gone bankrupt, so they introduced something called the 'minimum practice income guarantee' (MPIG) to stop practices falling below their previous level of income.
Now the government is taking away the MPIG and many practices are threatened with bankruptcy again. Good quality surgeries (who spend the most, employing more staff to provide the best possible service to patients) will be the first to face possible closure.
It is estimated that up to 700,000 patients in England could lose their local GP surgery if controversial Government plans to reallocate millions of pounds worth of GP funding go ahead.
About 13,000 patients in Sheffield could be affected, where the withdrawal of the minimum practice income guarantee (MPIG) could leave around 5 practices facing funding cuts that will put them at risk of closure. Devonshire Green / Hanover Medical Centre is one of these practices.
The reorganisation has disproportionately impacted practices in inner city areas with high levels of deprivation.
NHS England initially stated that MPIG would not be withdrawn until alternative funding structures were in place to support needy practices. However it has subsequently confirmed that it will proceed with MPIG phase out before any such funding is identified or agreed.
NHS England pledged earlier this year that the 100 or so would be offered support, but GPs and the British Medical Association (BMA) have both attacked health chiefs for failing to put any concrete plans in place to rescue surgeries at risk. The changes come amid wider discontent in the profession over the falling share of NHS funding set aside for GP services. The chief executive of NHSE, Simon Stevens, England’s top health official, has been personally warned about the risk of practice closures by the BMA’s GP chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul.
NHS England said it would work with practices that will lose out, but although the South Yorkshire Local Area Team of NHSE and Sheffield CCG have met with the practice, no new monies have as yet been identified, or any guarantee given that there will be alternative financial support to meet the shortfall.
NHS England has indicated temporary support for some surgeries in London. However, with NHS budgets already severely stretched, any extra funding to support GP services at risk may have to come from the Government and pressure is growing for the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to intervene.
Labour’s shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said that the changes were “pull[ing] the rug from under a number of very valuable practices” at a time when people were already finding it harder to get a GP appointment. “Jeremy Hunt must grasp the nettle and sort out this threat of GP practice closures,” he said.
The Royal College of General Practitioners has repeated calls for the Government to guarantee that no practices would close as a result of the withdrawal of MPIG funding.
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