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At last, some honesty over MPIG

A leading NHS England official has admitted that some practices will close over the MPIG-changes. Now practices need to know what support they can get, says Pulse chief reporter Sofia Lind

NHS England is willing to let GP practices close as a result of the ongoing redistribution of GP funding, says primary care commissioning lead Dr David Geddes. There we have it. While not a nice thing for GPs to read, there is a sense of relief that, at last, somebody in NHS England is telling it like it is, rather than giving opaque promises that somehow practices will be protected, leaving GPs to pick apart and guess what they mean.

We were wondering what was going on with area teams supposedly protecting outliers, because this didn’t seem to be materialising on the ground, anywhere across England. Dr Geddes says that actually, area teams are supporting practices, but not financially. Area teams are eager to help practices find efficiency savings, advice on merging, federating and networking. This is the kind of thing you can turn to your area team to discuss at this moment in time.

We had thought that NHS England would commission extra services on top for practices that may be struggling with the funding redistribution, in order to keep them viable. Dr Geddes says no, NHS England will not be creating ‘another MPIG’, some money-for-nothing funding just to keep a practice viable. We can stop expecting this. The ‘cheque book’ is not coming out.

Now we are wondering, is that cheque book never coming out? Never say never. According to Dr Geddes, a practice that provides a service vital to patients will, eventually, be protected. The question is whether it is actually NHS England’s cheque book we are talking about.

In our interview, Dr Geddes said that practices who have ‘identified an additional service they provide, or quality they can deliver, then actually we want to work with the CCGs in establishing better ways of managing that.’

Perhaps there’s a tiny bit of guess work still left to be done, but if I were to make mine, I’d say it’s worth keeping an eye on this whole thing with CCGs co-commissioning primary care, the ‘call to action’ on general practice and the CCGs’ ongoing work with developing five-year plans for the local health system, should you want to see that proverbial cheque waved in your practice’s direction.