The BMA is calling for NHS England to urgently bring back from a ‘cliff edge’ a number of GP practices in the wake of the withdrawal of the minimum practice income guarantee (MPIG).
It has criticised NHS England for not being transparent enough throughout the process of cutbacks to the subsidy across the country, which began in April last year and are to go on for another six years.
It was especially critical of NHS England for not spelling out clearly to practices which were eligible for special financial support from area teams, with a number of practices in the most deprived areas of England still finding themselves on a financial cliff edge, including in the London borough of Tower Hamlets.
At an urgent meeting set up with NHS England, the BMA said it will ask it to ‘honour its commitment’ to not drastically reduce ‘critical funding’ to GP practices in ‘challenging circumstances who needed additional resources to deliver vital GP services’.
NHS England has repeatedly appeared to throw practices a lifeline but BMA said these were ‘a mockery’ when it transpired only 15 out of 98 most affected practices were covered by a two-year funding reprieve deal offered by NHS England last August. This comes as last month, campaigners accused NHS England of ‘miscalculations’ in determining who was eligible for support.
BMA GP committee chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘We have secured an urgent meeting with them together with other interested parties to discuss the financial cliff edge facing a number of practices. It is vital that the reprieve funding is provided in a transparent and fair manner.’
He added: ‘The BMA’s GP committee has warned from the outset about the devastating impact of rapid MPIG withdrawal on patient services. We are deeply concerned at reports, such as in Tower Hamlets, of practices being unclear about their eligibility and the accuracy of data being used to calculate losses. This could be denying practices the crucial support they need.’
He added: ‘NHS England had previously agreed to our call to provide support to “outlying” practices identified as greatest losers in this process and we are expect them to honour their commitment. We cannot have a situation where patients, including in deprived communities, have their local GP services damaged because of poorly implemented funding changes.’
Jubilee Street practice manager Virgina Patania, who together with Jubilee Street GP partner Dr Naomi Beer has led a high-profile campaign not just to save their own practice but all threatened practices in east London, said: ‘We want proper data to be used when the funding is calculated for practices which are likely to be badly affected by these changes.
‘We hope for a speedy solution such that practices currently at risk of closure or redundancies can be helped while there is still time. BMA support gives us greater confidence that, almost one year into this campaign, we are nearing a solution.’
Pulse is running its own campaign to Stop Practice Closures, calling on the Government to implement emergency support for those at risk of closure and to overhaul funding and workforce strategies to allow stable long-term growth.