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Letter of the week: GPC should get a grip on MPIG phase-out

Dr Tony Bentley: I am very surprised by the lack of reaction in Pulse when Dr Laurence Buckman said the Department of Health's plan to speed up removal of the MPIG was a bad thing.

He said that ‘the proposals would mean a big pay cut for most practices, including mine' – a comment that seems to me quite shameful and self-serving ('DH to accelerate phase-out of MPIG').

He is supposed to be negotiating on behalf of all GPs and yet this comment backs up the impression many of us (or is it just the underfunded practices?) have that the GPC does not mind about the inequalities in practice funding and is happy to have them phased out over a long period. Perhaps someone should look at how big the MPIG or PMS fund is in certain GPC practices.

Leicester City PCT has a huge variation in basic core finding – ranging from £63.21 to £122.34 per patient per year. This is purely historic and is not based on deprivation or quality. The trust is to be congratulated on working to reduce these inequalities – it proposes to ask better-funded PMS and GMS practices to give up 30% of their growth funding. Indeed rigorous and overdue PMS contract reviews may find some practices lose more still.

Even then, there will remain a postcode lottery that is a disgraceful indictment of recent GPC and Government negotiation. The PCT is limited in what it can do and there are threats of legal challenges to preserve the status quo.

We need to ensure the situation we end up with is as fair as possible and doesn't just sweep the issue back under the carpet. Underfunded practices are not begging for crumbs from a rich man's table, but are fighting for proper and fair funding – for our practices' and our patients' sakes.

Dr Buckman's comments seem to prove he doesn't understand the situation for many practices who are on the bare minimum funding and are supposed to offer services equal to, and are directly judged against, practices who get significantly more. The situation we find ourselves in is very bad for the equality of patient care.

The GPC needs to get a grip, to get the MPIG phased out urgently, to make basic practice funding as fair as it can be, and to be seen to be working for all GPs!

From Dr Tony Bentley, Leicester

The Government has ordered PCTs to draw back money from PMS contracts YOUR LETTERS

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