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Andrew Pow: ‘Shift to capitation funding will make these small rural practices unsustainable’

I am a specialist medical accountant from a Manchester-based firm that looks after 250 GP practices throughout the country. I have actively been involved in a campaign locally to save two of the practices in the central Lake District where I live.

I became involved in the campaign to save the surgeries at Hawkshead and Coniston for two reasons. Firstly, I have a self-interest, one of the GPs is my wife.

Click here to read how the partners have campaigned against the threat of closure

The second reason though far outweighs this – these surgeries provide an essential service to the communities they serve.

It’s clear that the increasing shift to a capitation funding model will make these small rural practices unsustainable. The practice resources are already very low and she can easily earn more locuming – there is no shortage of opportunities – so the ruthless accountant in me says just hand the practice back and go and have an easy life

There have been some amusing moments along the way – a spelling mistake in a BMA press release described the fate of desperate rural GP practices (disparate is what I think they meant), radio interviews in strange places and our MP who is proud of his ability to navigate the Lakeland fells got us horribly lost in the basement of his building in Westminster – the corridors of power that day were murkier than I ever imagined.

My advice to other practices under threat would be, to look what you have on your doorstep. You are the most connected profession in the world. In your patient base you will have MPs, Lords, local councillors, lawyers, accountants, and the press. Use them – most will be happy to help.

And a final shameless plug – if you don’t have a medical specialist accountant, now more than ever may be a time to get one.

Andrew Pow is a director of Hall Liddy in Manchester and a patient in his home area of the Lake District.