Burnham calls for an end to GP funding cuts

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has called for an end to primary care funding cuts, and called for an urgent solution for practices hit by MPIG withdrawal.

Mr Burnham plans to raise the issue in parliament.
Mr Burnham plans to raise the issue in parliament.

Mr Burnham was speaking at the Jubilee Street Practice in east London which has said it will close in October unless a solution is found to losses of £903,000 as correction factor payments worth £219,508 a year are withdrawn.

The government had ‘wasted billions’ on NHS reorganisation and the general practice budget had been a casualty of those costs, said Mr Burnham, who was joined by shadow care minister Liz Kendall and local MP Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Limehouse, Labour).

‘We can't and shouldn't have these continued unsustainable cuts to the general practice budget’, he told GP.

The budget had been ‘raided’ he said, threatening standards of care. ‘Cuts on the scale we are seeing have to stop.’

Mr Burnham, who was promoting Labour’s newly announced policy to guarantee GP appointments within 48 hours funded with £100m, called on Jeremy Hunt to ‘grasp the nettle’ and sort out the threat of practice closures caused by MPIG withdrawal. 

Questioned as to whether Labour would bring back MPIG, Mr Burnham said: ‘You've got to give stability. Whether that is through MPIG or through something else. I'm open to changes if the government has other ideas. The crucial bit is stability.’

‘I'm open minded, but there has to be a solution, and soon for practices like this.’

‘I'm going to go back after today and wonder how best we are going to do it, but we will be raising this in a significant way in parliament in the coming weeks. We don't want this practice to stay in this position. It is totally unfair. It's unfair on the staff, unfair on the doctors but it's particularly unfair on the patients.’ 

He also questioned what advice the government had received on MPIG withdrawal. 

‘I was always warned that to remove it would destabilise or pull the rug from a number of practices, so I'm wondering, have the current government had the same advice. And if they have, why have they gone ahead with this change that, now, has thrown this practice into real uncertainty.’

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