Ministers to hold talks with London MPs over practice closure fears

Health ministers have agreed to hold talks with London MPs after renewed fears over practice closures were raised in parliament .

Parliament: MPs to meet ministers over GP funding
Parliament: MPs to meet ministers over GP funding

In the first health questions since last month’s election two Labour MPs called on ministers to take action on practice closures.

Emily Thornberry (Islington South, Lab) said three practices in her constituency had closed this month because GPs had quit. Ms Thornberry called for the government to look again at changes to the GP funding formula.

NHS England, however, said only one of the Islington practices was definitely closing, after a single-handed GP retired.

GPs forced to quit

A new provider will be contracted to take over a second Islington practice after the partners quit because of recruitment, financial and workload problems.

Commissioners have yet to decide the future of a third, single-handed, practice in the borough where the GP has announced retirement.

Tulip Siddiq MP told the Commons that 1,000 patients faced dispersal following the closure of a practice in her Hampstead and Kilburn constituency.

Health ministers agreed to meet inner London MPs to discuss the issue. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the government wanted to address the historic relative underfunding of general practice and would look at the GP funding formula. He suggested, however, that it could be difficult to change funding to benefit inner city practices. 'It needs to be fair to the whole country', said Mr Hunt. The GP system is under pressures in other areas, he said. 'Our ambition is to solve the problem everywhere.'

GP funding

Some GPs have argued that practices in deprived areas have been hardest hit by changes imposed in the 2013/14 GP contract, including the withdrawal of MPIG correction factor payments.

NHS England has set up a group to examine possible changes to the Carr-Hill funding formula to better account for deprivation.

Talks are also ongoing to re-examine the financial support package offered to practices in deprived areas hardest hit by MPIG cuts after some London practices complained they had been wrongly excluded from the deal.

Primary care minister Alistair Burt told Ms Siddiq: ‘There is an issue about closure of GP surgeries. They happen from time to time.’

A statement on the website of Mitchison Road Surgery in Islington said: ‘The partners have taken the difficult decision to resign following pressures around the lease of premises, retention and recruitment of clinical staff, finances and workload. We have tried our utmost to find a way of continuing to provide high quality care to our patients, but the partners now feel unable to take the practice forward.’

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