Editorial: SOS victory but the GP battle continues

Our website, GPonline, broke the news exclusively last month that MPIG funding will be restored for two years for a small number of GP practices in deprived areas.

The Jubilee Street Practice in Tower Hamlets, east London, at the heart of the Save Our Surgeries campaign, which expected to lose nearly £1m over the seven-year programme of MPIG withdrawal, confirmed it was among the practices that would benefit from the MPIG reprieve.

It is a small victory worth celebrating and one which, as GP described in our 4 August issue, shows how public protest can galvanise opposition to MPIG funding cuts, which in turn paves the way for negotiation on possible extra enhanced services funding - a template for other practices facing possible closure.

Full details of the MPIG support package are available on GPonline. The plan stipulates that no doctors at practices applying for the two-year package should have declared pensionable earnings in excess of £106,100 (the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body's calculated average pay for GPs in 2011/12), practice expenses should not exceed the average 63% of revenue and there should have been no contract breaches since April 2013.

GPs may well become suspicious about the enthusiasm of NHS England and local area teams for keeping open threatened practices.

This NHS England U-turn is welcome, but as the GPC points out, a national, long-term plan to help all affected GP practices is needed if this small victory is to result in GPs winning the war.

Practices have until 30 September to apply for and sign up to the funding agreement.

GP will continue to badge our coverage of the fight to keep practices open with the successful Save Our Surgeries logo. Is your practice in danger of closure? Email GP editor Neil Durham at neil.durham@haymarket.com if you would like our help in your fight.

The two-year rescue package should act as a sticking plaster for endangered practices until after the general election in 2015. By then, GPs will have had an opportunity to pass judgment on the coalition government.

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