High Court challenge launched to overturn MPIG cuts

Supporters of the practice at the heart of the Save Our Surgeries campaign have launched a High Court legal challenge claiming the government and NHS England's plans to cut MPIG funding are unlawful.

Danny Currie (right) with Jubilee Street GP Dr Salma Ahmed (left) (Photo: Wilde Fry)
Danny Currie (right) with Jubilee Street GP Dr Salma Ahmed (left) (Photo: Wilde Fry)

The action by Danny Currie, a patient with complex medical needs and supporter of the Save Our Surgeries campaign, claims the decision to withdraw MPIG funding was unlawful on the basis of inequality and consultation failure.

Mr Currie’s solicitors Leigh Day claim that NHS England is in breach of duties under the National Health Service Act 2006 as amended by the Health and Social Care Act 2012, which require it to have regard for reducing patients’ inequality of access to services.

Richard Stein from the human rights team at Leigh Day representing Mr Currie said: ‘The potential closure of this highly regarded practice is clearly a matter which has an impact upon the manner in which services are delivered to patients, and the range of health services available to them.

Video: Danny Currie speaks out at SOS protest

‘They should therefore have been consulted before these cuts to the surgery’s funding were made.

‘This is clearly an attack on inner city health provision and we agree with NHS England that the potential closure of this practice could be the first of many more.

‘The government must do more to address the consequences of its decisions and funds need to be spent to reduce not increase the disparity in the services provided.’

GP revealed earlier this week that Jubilee Street had told patients it could be closed by April and legal action was possible.

The practice, which faces MPIG losses worth over £900,000, wrote to patients on Tuesday telling them it could be forced to give notice of closure in October and close in April unless NHS England provides a ‘workable funding solution’.

Skeleton service warning

The letter said: ‘We are not prepared to put our patients at risk by providing a skeleton service.'

‘We do anticipate that NHS England will honour the promise made by the health minister to keep our surgery open and able to continue to deliver high quality services. Although we hope it does not come to this, legal proceedings may be necessary in order to solve the problem.’

Jubilee Street partners argue that MPIG withdrawal disadvantages inner city practice because global sum funding does not take account of the level of deprivation, ethnicity and general health status of patients.

Practice manager Virginia Patania, who has spearheaded the East London Save Our Surgeries campaign - which has organised protests and rallies against the cuts - told GP: 'If the proposals from NHS England are not strong enough to guarantee our long-term viability we would be open to reviewing the legal process through which these cuts were put in place.'

A DH spokeswoman said: 'Patients should have access to high quality GP services, no matter where they live. The system needs to be fair so GP practices are paid fairly according to the number of patients and the services they deliver.

'The MPIG was introduced in 2004 to support practices moving to a new GP contract. The NHS will be supporting the most affected practices to adjust as these payments are gradually phased out over seven years, and the money will be reinvested in general practice.'

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