GPC calls for urgent government action to save MPIG practices from closure

GP leaders have called on ministers to step in to protect 98 practices under threat of closure from MPIG cuts.

Dr Nagpaul: ‘Ministers have to get a grip on this problem urgently given these funding reductions are just weeks away.'
Dr Nagpaul: ‘Ministers have to get a grip on this problem urgently given these funding reductions are just weeks away.'

GP reported last week that hardest-hit outlier practices face average losses of over £162,000 over seven years, according to official data, but are still not guaranteed any support to cope with the cuts.

Now GPC has said practices are facing difficult staffing decisions as the April implementation of the cuts approaches. GPC chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul has called on government ministers to take urgent action.

‘Ministers have to get a grip on this problem urgently given these funding reductions are just weeks away from being implemented’, he said.

‘We need to ensure no practice closes and that there is a coordinated approach to deal with this issue.’

The government had seriously misjudged the potential impact of its funding changes made in 2013/14 contract imposition, said Dr Nagpaul, which will see MPIG top-ups to core pay redistributed over seven years from April.

Around 65% of practices in England benefit from MPIG. The majority of practices are set to gain from the redistribution, but a small number of practices will be hit hard.

NHS England revealed to GP last week that 1,925 out of 4,517 GMS practices in England face an average annual loss over the next seven years from the cuts to correction factor payments.

Dr Nagpaul said the severe cuts facing the 98 outliers ‘could threaten their ability to remain open’.

The decision at the end of last year to hand responsibility for dealing with practices facing hardship to local area teams had not helped the situation, he added.

Advice issued by NHS England to area teams suggested smaller practices could be merged, federated, made more efficient through cost cutting, or that other contracting and commissioning solutions could be found.

Alongside new data released last week, NHS England said the list of outliers was ‘only a guide for area teams’, and there was ‘no guarantee that all practices on the list will receive support of other kinds’.

GPC released details of one practice under pressure from the cuts.

Dr Katharina Frey said she had been forced to think ‘very careful’ about how to replace senior staff at her rural Cumbrian practice.

Dr Frey, whose practice serves around 1,000 patients, said:  ‘This situation will become even more pressurised when we lose the MPIG support that currently accounts for our around a third of our current core funding. We are already working at full capacity with declining resources: I just don’t know how we will cope with this additional financial blow.’

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