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RCGP calls for £15m bailout for at-risk GP practices

The RCGP has called on the Government to put in place a £15m bailout to save at-risk GP practices from closure amid funding reforms.

Upto 100 GP practices – covering about 700,000 patients across England – could close within months largely because of ‘catastrophic’ reductions in funding linked to the scrapping of the minimum practice income guarantee (MPIG), it said.

The RCGP added that many of these practices serve deprived inner-city or remote communities, including 15 practices in the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Hackney alone. Other regions with surgeries at risk include Essex, Leicester, Sheffield and Cumbria, but RCGP wants the Government to guarantee that ‘no practice will be shut’ as a result of MPIG losses.

The RCGP said the size of the ‘emergency stability fund’ would need to be ‘about £15 million’, and as reviously reported, the RCGP also wants overall funding of general practice to grow from 8.4% of the current NHS budget to 11% by 2017.

RCGP honorary secretary Professor Nigel Mathers said: ‘The fact that up to 100 practices are facing imminent closure at a time when general practice across the UK is in crisis is catastrophic. The severe underinvestment in GP services means that many practices have been relying on MPIG funding just to keep going. Rather than robbing Peter to pay Paul, the Government should be ensuring that general practices gets the investment it needs to provide safe patient care across the whole country.’