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GP practice staff at risk from MPIG freeze

By Steve Nowottny

This year's MPIG freeze will force practices to shed staff and could lead to some closing down altogether, medical accountants are warning.

The Department of Health has now begun a 12-week consultation with the GPC over the pay award – effectively a third successive freeze for the 90% of practices reliant on the MPIG.

Accountants warned that if the freeze was allowed to stand – and was not reversed by the consultation or the threatened legal challenge from the GPC – the effect on practices would be devastating.

Practices are now in limbo, with the Government consultation meaning there will be no decision on pay, the extended hours DES or the promised 1.5% of additional investment until September at the earliest.

Mike Gilbert, a partner at RMT accountants and business advisers, said many practices faced with a third effective pay freeze were being forced to cut clinical staff. ‘Cost-cutting is normally a one-off exercise. How many times can you do it?' he said. ‘Clinical health costs are being looked at now.'

Paul Kendall, senior medical partner at accountant Dodd and Co, warned the department's determination to get rid of the MPIG altogether would see practices go to the wall. ‘There's a lot of practices reliant on the MPIG, so whatever they do they're going to have to replace it with something or there'll be practices actually shutting doors.'

Speaking at the LMCs conference, GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman admitted the delays in financial arrangements could see the promised 1.5% investment ‘disappear into the ether'. But he promised: ‘We are going to hold [the Government] to behaving correctly within the law.'

Nurse

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