Patients protest at 'worst funded practice in NHS'

An Essex GP has staged a protest and sent a petition to Downing Street to object against the funding his practice receives from the PCT.

The plaque of a ‘coffin’ that was paraded through the South Woodham Ferrers Essex symbolising the demise of Greenwood Surgery
The plaque of a ‘coffin’ that was paraded through the South Woodham Ferrers Essex symbolising the demise of Greenwood Surgery

GP Dr John Cormack described his practice, the Greenwood Surgery, in South Woodham Ferrers Essex, as the ‘the worst funded practice in the entire NHS’.

On Saturday over 300 people, including patients of the practice, joined Dr Cormack in a protest against the PCT’s funding decisions.

Patients carried banners and placards criticising the PCT and a ‘coffin’ was paraded through the town ‘symbolising the demise of Greenwood Surgery’, Dr Cormack said.

Dr Cormack said he received £7,741, much lower than the average GP pay of £105,300.

Due to poor funding the practice had exceeded its overdraft and things had become so bad that Dr Cormack said he had to pay his own money into the practice.

'Last month and the month before I’ve had to pay in a four-figure sum in order that we stay solvent/the staff are paid,’ Dr Cormack said.

Underfunding is not a new problem for the practice, Dr Cormack said, the issue first began in 2004.

Following the recent local protest, a petition with over 900 signatures and a letter to the prime minister was delivered by Dr Cormack to 10 Downing Street.

In the letter to David Cameron, Dr Cormack explained the practices situation: ‘This surgery effectively has no budget for any doctors (despite ‘ticking all the right boxes’) – and so it has become a nurse-led surgery to all intents and purposes,’ the letter said.

NHS North Essex has denied any suggestions that the practice was under funded.

Sheila Bremner, chief executive of NHS North Essex, said: ‘Given the national formula, there is absolutely no discrimination against the practice and its patients by the PCT.

‘The PCT has regularly answered Dr Cormack’s queries about the funding for his practice over recent years. We have gone to some lengths to explain that the practice is receiving the allocation to which it is legally entitled.’

Essex LMCs chairman Dr Brian Balmer said that the LMC was involved with the dispute when it was first raised, however it was no longer involved as it felt the issue had been resolved.

‘We were pretty sure at the time their funding was fair within the national formula,’ Dr Balmer said.

Dr Balmer said the LMC believed the practice had experienced funding issues because of its ‘weighted list’.

The practice is an area with a high prevalence of younger patients, Dr Balmer said.

Dr Cormack agreed that the town did have a weighting problem, but he disputed that this was the cause of Greenwood surgery’s funding issues.

‘If it was right all the other practices in the town would suffer to the same extent,’ he said

‘We are in a wholly different situation to other practices in South Woodham Ferrers,’ Dr Cormack added.

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