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MP requests meeting with minister over at-risk 37,000-patient PMS practice

An MP has stepped in to support a patient-led campaign to save a PMS practice that stands to lose hundreds of thousands.

In correspondence seen by Pulse, Sir Henry Bellingham, the MP for North West Norfolk, told the campaigners that he has requested a meeting with health minister Lord David Prior to discuss the matter.

The campaigners are considering joining a class action law suit against NHS England over the proposed cuts to Vida Healthcare, which runs six surgeries in Norfolk, with a combined 37,000 patients.

One of the GP partners at the group practice previously told Pulse that their PMS review has resulted in a planned reduction to its funding of at least £250,000 annually, which would force it to cut back patient services.

The patients, who are dismayed with this, are arguing that the cuts are not legal on the basis that commissioners failed to consult them.

In a letter to his MP, patient group representative Dan O’Connor mentioned non-communication by both the local CCG and NHS England.

He wrote: ‘Despite a statutory duty for both… NHS [England] and NHS West Norfolk CCG to respond to and engage with patients, [my questions and emails] remain unanswered.’

Sir Henry responded: ’Thank you for this update which is extremely useful. I am now going to write to Lord Prior to ask for a formal meeting. I will let you know when I have any news.’

Mr O’Connor told Pulse: ’We Vida Healthcare patients are very grateful to Sir Henry – a senior Conservative MP – for the vigorous action he continues to take on behalf of the thousands of his constituents whose health will be adversely affected if these appalling NHS England cuts to already-struggling GP surgeries’ funding are not halted.

’It really is outrageous that GPs up and down the country should now have to try and find even more time to safeguard their already inadequate NHS funding – whilst at the same time scrabble around for non-existent resources to deal with the ever lengthening queues of patients in their surgeries who need help.’

A spokesperson for NHS West Norfolk CCG said: ’[The CCG] is committed to engaging and communicating effectively with local patients and stakeholders. The CCG has been in touch with the patient group concerned and will be addressing the issues raised.

Pulse has contacted Sir Henry and NHS England for a comment.

Please note: the story originally had Sir Henry Bellingham down as MP for Cheltenham. This was changed at 10:45 on 13 April 2016.