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Independents' Day

A great day for GP power, but the war continues

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It may only be partial – but it is a victory for the little man all the same. The two-year MPIG reprieve that was won by GPs in London that will be rolled out across England marks a major concession from NHS England.

But it is only a sticking plaster. We still have no details about how much funding will be given back to practices, who may be eligible for the reprieve or whether it will simply cram seven years’ worth of cuts to MPIG into five. But that all said, it is a change in tone won through some ingenious campaigning from the 30 or so practices in east London and their ‘Save Our Surgeries’campaign.

I would love to chalk this up as a victory for our own ‘Stop Practice Closures’ campaign, but the truth is that these GPs and their supporters organised marches, made national headlines and ended up taking their petition up to the steps of 10 Downing Street. They have shown a remarkable ability to mobilise their patients and illustrate that even good practices that achieving all their targets are facing oblivion.

I have been told privately that their campaign really needled mandarins inside NHS England and was heard up to the highest levels in Government. They deserve recognition for this.

They proved that for them MPIG is not just a payment to supplement their take-home income, it is vital additional funding to pay for the additional costs of working in a deprived area – such as paying for staff to interpret for patients who have English as their second language or signposting patients to access other social or community services that may help them.

And it was a hard-won concession – just two months ago primary care chief Dr David Geddes was telling Pulse that NHS England could not guarantee any support for MPIG-reliant practices.

All this was achieved with relatively little support from anyone – including the RCGP and the BMA, who caught up in the end, but were intially left scrambling to catch up with the impact caused by the campaign.

But this remains one small victory in a much bigger fight. MPIG is one of a myriad of problems that are facing practices across the country and is pushing scores to the brink of closure. The ongoing PMS reviews, dilapidated premises, the GP recruitment crisis, the overly bureaucratic burdens of CQC requirements… I could go on. Practices facing these issues also require emergency assistance so they are able to figure out a way to restructure and protect their patients from imminent closure, as we are calling for in our campaign.

We are steadily collecting signatures for our petition - but please do advertise this to your patients. (One GP even said to me that he would be adding a question asking his patients to sign Pulse’s petition as part of his second compulsory question in the Friends and Family test. I am not suggesting you do this, but any help you can offer to publicise this would be gratefully received.)

Also look out for the next issue of Pulse as there will be some materials to help with your fight to keep your practice going, specially authored by one of the GPs in Tower Hamlets. It is a great day for GP power – but there is much more to do.

Nigel Praities is editor of Pulse

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Readers' comments (10)

  • You are joking aren't you!

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  • So the help has got nothing to do with trying to cover up impending crisis before the election next may then !!!

    of course not ! Not me thinks -

    Unless fix is permenant tell them to shove it where proctoscope probes, because you will be back here once election is over

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  • I would not wish to be too "down" on the matter, though I conceed anonymous 2:20pm has a valid point.
    Nonetheless this is a landmark.
    Virtually unsupported( Nigel appears overly modesy on PULSE's contribution to my mind) contractors have been able to make a case that a defined NHS England policy( " not open to change ") as not reasonable and that it needed to alter.
    Irrespective of who is in power post election the precedent has been set that "block" application of national policy to the proven detriment of a section of the population is a variety of "postcode lottery" that the politicians cannot countenance if they weanbt to keep their seats.
    Mobilise your patient groups, get them lobbying MP's to ensure the money to deliver effective primary care from 21st century premises is made available.
    I know the Daily Mail, believe we are underworked and overpaid.
    During the first world war commorations I think it time to say I do not give a fig about the opinion of a paper that raised popular sentiment to maufactrure and post to the troops gas masks of "Our own technological design" that did not protect when dry and asphyxiated soldiers when wet.
    Some journalistic and editorial behaviours are eternal- High standards from PULSE- draw your own conclusion on the Daily Mail.

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  • Vinci Ho

    'One can perhaps take away the chief command of the whole military ( the three troops) but one must not remove the will and determination of each individual man.' Analects , Confuscius .

    Of course, not everyone believes in fighting this war......

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  • MPIG was never meant to be withdrawn. But they go back on their word and our leaders keep saying how badly we are being treated. Great bunch!! This is no victory. This is bullying. Are there any rules or is it just arbitrary what NHS England thinks is right for today but not tomorrow? They appear to be able to do anything, say anything, impose anything at any time. All we hear from our leaders is the same old trite - day in day out. Let us ballot the profession - do we stay in or leave this mess behind.?

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  • It's not hard for NHS England to promise money they do not have when they are desperately trying to ofloadf primary care commissioning to CCGs! I wonder where the shortfall will rest? On GPs within CCG to make decisions on which practices will close? It looks like they know which mugs they can leave to pick up the pieces!

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  • this isn't a victory in any sense of the word.

    It is expedient for the politicians to have this issue swept under the carpet for the election.

    A true victory would have been the closure of these practices and the significant negative political ramifications that resulted.

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  • It will only be campaigns like SOS and SPClosures that will rescue the NHS from neoliberalist policies - Tory or Labour, in my humble opinion!

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  • This is absurd. The DOH is apparently trying to increase GP trainee intake at the same time as giving the current GPs absolute hell.
    MPIG was supposed to be permanent, but oh no, it is the absolute whim of NHS England ie 2 years, could be 3 ,5 10 years - who knows?
    Imposed Contracts, chopped and discriminatory pension changes [ no changes to Judges or MPs], stop seniority , 8 to 8 ,7 day opening - the list goes on and on.
    Closing existing GP surgeries by letting them go to the wall while trying to recruit more GPs is beyond silly. I think I must be mad as the GPC seems to think all this is fine.

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  • Behave and wake up - you only have this reprieve because there is a general election this year and David Cameron will not want to be associated with closing down the much loved family doctor - we will be thrown back to the wolves once it is over

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