Prime minister David Cameron pledges to probe MPIG cuts

Prime minister David Cameron has pledged to investigate fears that MPIG cuts could force rural GP practices to close, following pressure from MPs.

Prime minister David Cameron: MPIG question

MP Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley, Con) told Mr Cameron at prime minister’s questions on Wednesday that rural practices could close if they do not receive MPIG top-ups to core pay, which the government has pledged to phase out over seven years from 2014.

‘With the disappearance of the MPIG many doctors' surgeries serving remote rural areas like the one at Slaidburn in my constituency, face death not by a 1,000 cuts but death by one cut,' Mr Evans said.

‘They serve a lot of elderly residents. And a lot of children also who don’t have access to great public transport to go into neighbouring Clitheroe. Will he investigate this issue and ensure that my constituents will not be isolated and that they will continue to receive the excellent service they receive from their doctor's surgery?’

Senior rural Tory and Lib Dem MPs, including foreign secretary William Hague, have previously warned that huge swings in funding could force small, remote practices to close.

The prime minister told MPs: ‘I will look carefully at the case that he makes. I too represent a large rural constituency where there are still small practices.

‘I think it is the case though that many more doctors' surgeries are offering many more services with practice nurses and other assistance given to patients and we want to see a growth of that at least to make sure that people can go to GP surgeries rather than to A&E if it is a GP that they need. But I will look into the specific point that he makes.’

The single-handed Slaidburn Country Practice, mentioned by Mr Evans, launched a campaign in June to protect rural practices.

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