Second London council backs Save Our Surgeries campaign

A second east London council has committed to supporting the Save Our Surgeries campaign to protect practices against funding cuts, as campaigners prepare to take their message to Downing Street.

Save our Surgeries campaigners outside Tower Hamlets town hall (Photo: Neil Roberts)
Save our Surgeries campaigners outside Tower Hamlets town hall (Photo: Neil Roberts)

Tower Hamlets borough council’s executive member for adult services, councillor Abdul Asad, told a meeting of the full council last week that elected mayor Lutfur Rahman, the ruling Tower Hamlets First party and the largest party, Labour, were all supporting the campaign against the threat to practices from MPIG and PMS funding cuts.

GPs believe five practices in the East End borough are at risk of closure from MPIG withdrawal, including Jubilee Street, which has told patients it could close in April because of £900,000 losses.

Both main parties in Tower Hamlets brought motions to the full council meeting backing the Save our Surgeries (SOS) campaign, but they were not discussed because the meeting ran out out time.

However, councillor Asad addressed questions on the issue from a member of the public and from another council member.

Concerns for surgeries

He said: ‘We too are concerned for our surgeries and the excellent service they provide.

'We know that being angry alone is not enough. The mayor has applied personal pressure to the health secretary with an open letter expressing serious concerns.

Cllr Asad said despite the borough having some of the highest deprivation indicators in the country, that was no longer reflected in funding.

'The mayor and ruling group of the council, and councillors from the whole spectrum have joined the march to protest against the cuts. But these government cuts are very drastic, very fast indeed, and do not make sense in terms of service delivery.'

He warned that the issue was ultimately out of the hands of the council.

Town hall protest

Before the meeting local GPs and SOS campaigners held a lobby protest outside the town hall.

Chrisp Street GP Dr Kambiz Boomla told GP the campaigners wanted the mayor to ask the secretary of state to change the GP funding formula to place greater emphasis on deprivation factors.

Dr Boomla said the Carr-Hill formula's strong weighting on age disadvantaged areas of high deprivation where people are more likely to suffer serious illness at a younger age.

‘We feel this very strong weighting on age heavily disadvantages deprived areas,' he said. This, he argued, was why 23 of the practices hit hardest by the removal of MPIG were in east London.

The motion submitted to the meeting by Tower Hamlets First councillors called on the mayor to continue to work with the SOS campaign and lobby the health secretary.

Pressure on health secretary

Labour’s motion called on the council to put pressure on the DH and NHS England to ensure no practices in the borough are forced to close because of MPIG changes.

On Wednesday SOS campaigners will hand in a peition to Downing Street calling for a reversal of the MPIG cuts signed by more than 21,000 people.

Last month neighbouring Hackney borough council gave its support to the campaign. Local GPs told hackney councillors that 10 practices across the borough faced combined losses of £8m over the seven-year MPIG withdrawal.

Twelve practices in Hackney, serving 100,000 people, have been identified as at risk of closure.

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