East London GPs plan fresh protests over £20m funding cuts

GPs are planning fresh protests over funding cuts after research revealed practices in the east London borough of Tower Hamlets face losses worth over £20m.

Save Our Surgeries: Jubilee Street practice manager Virginia Patania leads protest (Photo: Alex Deverill)
Save Our Surgeries: Jubilee Street practice manager Virginia Patania leads protest (Photo: Alex Deverill)

The Save Our Surgeries (SOS) campaign, launched by GPs and supporters last year in response to the threat of MPIG cuts, has published a research document which claims practices face combined losses of £20.4m over seven years.

On top of £4.4m losses from the withdrawal of MPIG funding, the GPs estimate losses of £3.5m and £12.5m respectively from PMS and APMS practices.

GPs, patients and campaigners will protest near Limehouse practice on Thursday 19 March at 2pm.

Read more: Meet the Save Our Surgeries campaigners

Previous protests called by the group have brought thousands on to the streets in defence of local practices at risk of closure from the cuts.

The group is calling on NHS England to offer support to more practices under threat from MPIG losses.

Talks have been convened by the BMA after NHS England admitted using incorrect data when it calculated which practices should be offered support in a two-year reprieve deal won by campaigners last year.

NHS England initially offered support to just 17 of the 98 practices it identified as the worst affected. GP campaigners believe as many as 15 further practices could be eligible across two east London boroughs where just one has been given help.

GP funding link to deprivation

SOS campaigners are also calling for greater recognition of deprivation in GP funding after research showed the Carr-Hill funding formula failed to adequately reflect the increased workload those practices faced.

Speaking at the launch of the SOS report, Tower Hamlets LMC chairwoman Dr Jackie Applebee said practices such as Limehouse should have been supported by the reprieve deal but were still waiting.

‘We are having another protest because we want to keep the pressure on,' she said. ‘We have had a lot of support from patients which we are very grateful for, and it is their services at risk.’

Dr Naureen Bhatti from Limehouse practice, which says it faces a 23% income drop, said that half of the eight partners were ‘hanging by a thread’ and would leave if the practice could not get bailout funds.

‘I don't think we we will be able to recruit other partners or afford a salaried doctor rate, which would attract people,' she said.

Jubilee Street Practice manager and CCG board member Virginia Patania said talks between local GPs, the BMA, RCGP, NHS England and DH had agreed there would be a national review of the way funding losses were calculated by NHS England. Losses will be recalculated using actual rather than projected financial data. 'We hope, probably within the next month, to hear back from them with an idea about which practices actually can apply for this two-year reprieve funding.'

She said in Tower Hamlets only one practice had had received support, and another five had been identified that should have been offered funding. In neighbouring Hackney, no practice had received support, but as many as 10 should have been made an offer.

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