London GPs launch MPIG campaign to save practices facing financial ruin

GPs in east London are set to launch a campaign demanding new funding for practices hit by MPIG cuts.

Dr Naomi Beer (left) and practice manager Virginia Patania (right): practice faces closure

GPs at a leading practice in Tower Hamlets have warned they could be forced to close next year by a combination of losses from MPIG and other funding streams.

Over the seven-year withdrawal of MPIG the practice stands to lose £903,000 in total as correction factor payments worth £219,508 a year are withdrawn.

Partners at Jubilee Street Practice, which serves 11,000 patients in London’s East End and has a 94% satisfaction rating, met on Tuesday to agree a campaign strategy after being inundated with support.

Open letter to David Cameron

The practice, with support from local politicians, is preparing an open letter and public petition demanding a meeting with health secretary Jeremy Hunt and prime minister David Cameron.

The campaign will urge ministers either to scrap the MPIG withdrawal, hand new funding to area teams to recognise staffing and deprivation issues, or to pause the cuts and consider an alternative solution.

Local MP Jim Fitzpatrick will lend his support to the campaign, according to practice manager Virginia Patania, along with other local politicians and members of the House of Lords.

Ms Patania said a reduction in QOF points in 2013/14 cost the practice £30,000 and would be compounded by MPIG cuts.

Plans to dissolve partnership

The practice, an RCGP quality practice award winner, has sought legal and financial advice on dissolving the partnership.

Senior partner Dr Naomi Beer said MPIG withdrawal policy failed to consider the effects of ethnicity and deprivation and was ‘letting patients in underprivileged areas down’.

‘We are now eating into practice savings to continue providing a quality service, and we are planning for a ‘red button day’ when we will have to close the practice,' said Dr Beer.

The MPIG changes were imposed by ministers in the 2013/14 contract and came into effect this month. While the funding will be redistributed into core funding over seven years, 40% of practices are set to lose out. In London 65% of practices face losses of over £2 a patient per year.

Small practices could be merged

Advice issued by NHS England to area teams suggested smaller practices could be merged, federated, made more efficient through cost cutting, or helped via other contracting and commissioning solutions.

Area teams have been told the list of outliers was only a guide and there was no guarantee all practices on the list will receive support.

A survey of area teams by GP last month found little evidence of concrete proposals to help practices affected.

The GPC warned in March that all 98 of NHS England’s identified outliers, which face losses of over £3 a patient per year, were at risk of closure, and 12% of GPs surveyed by GP last week said their practice could be shut down.

Ministers must take responsibility

Ms Patania said her practice was ‘tired’ of being referred back to NHS England or the CCG and it was time for ministers to take responsibility.

‘We are done with CCGs, we are done with NHS England. It has to be at a Department of Health level,' she said.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey called for ‘urgent action’ so practices can continue to serve patients.

A spokeswoman for NHS England London region said: 'The changes are part of a national policy to bring all practices into an equal financial position, which will ensure that all patients can expect the same high level of service from their GP where ever they live. The majority of GP practices in London will receive more funding in their global sum as a result of these changes, but some will receive less. The changes will take place over seven years to allow practices time to adjust and plan for the change.

'We have contacted Jubilee Street Practice and other GP practices which may be significantly affected to discuss any financial challenges and identify ways to support them.'

An emergency meeting for Tower Hamlets GPs has been called for Tuesday 6 May.

Free GMS financial forecast 2014/21's sister website Medeconomics has teamed up with specialist medical accountants Ramsay Brown & Partners to provide all subscribers with a forecast of their practice's financial performance as the MPIG is phased out over the next seven years.

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