London MP demands government funding for MPIG-hit practices

An east London MP has called on health secretary Jeremy Hunt to find funding to support practices hit by MPIG cuts after it emerged that up to five in his constituency faced possible closure.

Jim Fitzpatrick MP: support MPIG practices
Jim Fitzpatrick MP: support MPIG practices

Jim Fitzpatrick (Lab, Poplar and Limehouse), met with GPs and managers from the Jubilee Street Practice in Tower Hamlets, east London yesterday after they took advice on closing down in face of huge funding losses.

Mr Fitzpatrick told GP he had tabled a series of urgent questions to health ministers and will try to raise the matter in the House on Friday and seek a debate on the threat to practices across the country.

‘We have written to the secretary of state and the minister of health asking for a face to face meeting with ministers and officials to allow them to explain to us why they don't think it is a problem when clearly local clinicians think it is a very serious problem’, the MP said.

‘What we want is reinstatement of the amount of money that practices need to operate safely and efficiently.’

Ministers must take responsibility

Mr Fitzpatrick said ministers must take responsibility for the policies which were imposed by the DH in the 2013/14 GP contract.

‘All the officials can do, or NHS England can do is apply the policies passed by the government. The government is responsible for the changes, therefore the government has to make the alterations to protect practices from closures.’

Mr Hunt previously told MPs the decision had been handed to NHS England and was out of ministers’ hands under the new structures.

Mr Fitzpatrick warned the scale of the problem was not yet apparent and ‘only starting to emerge’.

GPs at the 11,000-patient Jubilee Street Practice 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of MPIG the practice stands to lose £903,000 in total as correction factor payments worth £219,508 a year are withdrawn.

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

Patients let down

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.

NHS England has identified 98 'outlier' practices which face loses of £3 a patient per year. Guidance issued 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 said their practice could be shut down.

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