GP practices in Tower Hamlets saved from the brink of closure by an emergency fund have urged MPIG losers elsewhere in the country to push for the same.
All ten at-risk practices in the highly deprived east London borough have now been offered support from the ‘emergency fund’ held by NHS England, which counts for 1% of the overall primary care budget.
The chair of the Save Our Surgeries campaign group, Maggie Falshaw, said this ‘headroom’ budget was unlikely to be ‘publicised’ by NHS England as a solution to practices becoming unviable but added that, despite this, it ‘must apply across the country’.
Campaigners also continued to push for GP practices serving deprived communities to get a larger share of funding and support PMS practices going through reviews to claw back their premium funding.
Ms Falshaw, a retired practice manager, said: ‘Surgeries will have to be prepared to fight to get access. They will need to write an appeal and get backing from the BMA and the RCGP.
‘Getting your MP and the local community involved will also help. But the key point is that the funding is there – you can apply to your CCG, if it has opted for full co-commissioning, or directly to the local NHSE area teams.’
But a number of Tower Hamlets GPs said the damage had, in some ways, already been done.
‘The fact is, terrible damage has already been done. We have already lost GPs because of the uncertainty – at a time when it couldn’t be harder to replace them,’ said Dr Kirsten Shirke from the Limehouse Practice.
‘Abolishing MPIG, with no risk assessment around deprivation, was bad planning and threatened to destabilise the whole of primary care in east London. It wasn’t just bad news for a few GP partnerships – it would have been a disaster for all our patients,’ Dr Symniakou Spyridon from the Albion Practice.
Pulse recently revealed as part of the Stop Practice Closures campaign that thousands of patients have already been forced to find a new GP because of closures around the UK.