Student protest over MPIG cuts at university practice secures offer of support

A university practice facing over a million pounds in MPIG cuts has been told it could be offered an enhanced service to support it after students staged a protest.

Protest: students backed practice hit by MPIG removal
Protest: students backed practice hit by MPIG removal

Rowhedge and University of Essex Medical Practice has already cut GP and nurse sessions and has had to close one afternoon a week due to cuts to its £290,000 MPIG correction factor funding. The practice says it faces cuts of £1.2m over the seven-year withdrawal of the funding top-up.

GP partner Dr Michele Wall said the local area team called her in for a meeting following a recent campaign against the threat to the practice which culminated in a protest organised with the university students’ union.

The practice has a village surgery branch with 4,000 patients, and a university practice with 8,500 patients.

NHS England admits, said Dr Wall, that because of the age weighting factor in the funding formula the practice is only funded to care for under 70% of its 12,500 patients.

Video: 1,000 protesters march over MPIG cuts

In a meeting with NHS England officials and local MP Bernard Jenkin last Friday, Dr Wall said she was told the area team would examine whether there was anything which made the practice ‘an exception to the rule’ so it could be helped without setting a precedent.

‘They want to know why we are a unique practice and what services we provide that are not currently funded for, and if something like [an enhanced service] could be set up, and both NHS England and the LMC are looking to help us negotiate with the CCG,' said Dr Wall.

Area team officials suggested funding could come from the CCG, ‘but of course they've got no money either’, said Dr Wall.

In the longer term, Dr Wall said officials told her, money taken from PMS practices ‘might be ploughed back in’.

Last month partners at Jubilee Street Practice in London, which faces MPIG losses over £900,000, were told by their area team team that enhanced services could be offered to recognise the additional workload from a population with low numbers of English speakers, and requirements around access.

But the practice does not think the proposed solution will address its funding gap and the partners are concerned that not all MPIG-hit practices will benefit.

Student warning over MPIG removal

The Student Health Association recently wrote to MPs warning that MPIG withdrawal would ‘lead to student health practices in particular losing a very large amount of funding’.

The association called for the Carr-Hill GP funding formula to include being a student as a deprivation factor.

Dr Wall said: ‘Our MP has gone away looking at whether the student population ought to attract a deprivation payment because these kids are financially strapped, but geographically don't necessarily attract deprivation payments.’

A spokeswoman for NHS England, Essex said: ‘As part of a national process, MPIG will be phased out with the view to allocate funds based on the number of patients practices serve and the health needs of those patients to make funding more equitable. The withdrawal of MPIG commenced at the start of the 2014/15 financial year and will take place over a seven-year period.

‘NHS England's Essex area team is currently identifying practices that may be affected, and we will work with them to address any concerns to make the transition as smooth as possible.’

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