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Health minister ‘to review’ MPIG cuts

A group of GPs, staff and patients have travelled to London today to hand over a public petition to 10 Downing Street urging the Prime Minister to rethink cuts to the minumum practice income guarantee (MPIG).

The Devonshire Green & Hanover Medical Centres in Sheffield, which launched its campaign in January, said it has also secured commitment from health minister Dr Daniel Poulter to look into how practices such as theirs can be protected amid cuts.

Dr Graham Pettinger, the partner leading the campaign to save the two-site, inner-city practice which stands to lose £140,000 from the MPIG withdrawal, said the minister had heard of their special circumstances as a practice serving a large number of vulnerable patients, such as those with mental health concern or who do not have English as a first language.

Dr Pettinger has also been supported in his campaign for a review of MPIG cuts by Sheffield MP Paul Blomfield.

The GP told Pulse: ‘We’ve just met with Dan Poulter, under-secretary of state for health, and had a creative discussion with him. He’s made a commitment to write to NHS England and ask them to consider the particular needs of the practice, in particular the longer turning funding alternatives to Carr-Hill.

‘He heard our concerns, and the particulars of our practice that make us so dependent on MPIG. And I’d say he appeared to listen to the concerns, and understand them. I think he’s going to talk to NHS England about both the particular needs of our practice, and that there are other outliers adversely affected by MPIG.’

It comes as a similar petition was heard by MPs in the House of Commons yesterday, when John Trickett MP raised concerns from constituents in Hemsworth in West Yorkshire. According to the petition, PMS-funded practices in Hemsworth face losses of £3.8m over the next three years as a result of funding reviews.

However, responding to the PMS petition, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the matter was one for local commissioners having been devolved by central Government.

The petitions follow Pulse’s ‘Stop Practice Closures’ campaign to save around 100 GP practices around the country which are at risk of having to close via urgent funding measures.

A group of GP practices from Tower Hamlets and Hackney in east London also raised enough petition signatures to be welcomed at 10 Downing Street last year to question funding swings. Although talks with NHS England led to some concessions, the ‘Save Our Surgeries’ campaigners have gained support from BMA in warning practices are still at risk.