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GP practice sets ‘red button’ closure date after losing MPIG funding

A GP practice in a deprived area of London could be the first to shut down due to the scrapping of the minimum practice income guarantee (MPIG), having set a ‘red button’ day when money will run out.

Patients in Stepney in east London could see their practice closed within a year, GPs at the Jubilee Street Practice in the borough of Tower Hamlets have warned, after they lost£219,508 in MPIG funding on 1 April.

Under the Government’s plans to gradually withdraw MPIG funding over seven years, the practice stands to lose the same amount off its funding every year for the next six years, however, GPs at the practice warned it would not last that long.

According to Dr Naomi Beer, senior GP partner at the practice, it is currently surviving by taking money out of its savings account, but they have had to set a ‘red button day’ for when the money runs out and they have to shut down.

She said: ‘One of the biggest financial hits for us is the Government’s decision to withdraw MPIG which means that our practice will lose £219,508 a year over the next seven years. The funding changes fail to consider the ethnicity or deprivation of an area, and are letting patients in underprivileged areas down. Many practices in the local area will also be in the same position to us.’

‘We are now eating into practice savings to continue providing a quality service, and we are planning for a “red button day” when we will have to close the practice. Partners have taken pay cuts to try and keep the practice afloat, but it’s not enough – our future is still uncertain.’

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MPIG-reliant practice faces 25% drop in funding after NHS England backtracks on protection for ‘outliers’

Earlier this year it was revealed that NHS England is leaving it entirely up to area teams whether to ensure the future of hundreds of practices by special measures, despite having originally said that at least around 100 outliers would be protected.

Meanwhile, GP leaders have repeatedly asked NHS England to step in to protect practices.

Commenting on the news, GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘Despite working harder than ever before, GPs in London and across the UK are facing huge cuts in their basic funding. In some situations like Dr Beer’s, these cuts could force the practice to close.’

‘This crisis is pushing more GPs to consider retiring early while putting off young doctors from considering general practice as a career. GP morale is at an all time low, and at a time when we need increased funding to expand the GP workforce, the government’s response has been to cut funding paid to the majority of practices.’

‘We need urgent action to address this problem so that practices can continue to meet the growing needs of our patients.’