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MP calls for action to protect rural GP practices

June 26, 2013 2:12 PM

Tim in WestminsterSouth Lakes MP Tim Farron has sounded the alarm that changes to the funding formula could leave smaller rural practices at serious risk of closure.

A compensation payment for surgeries with low footfall is due to be phased out from next year, prompting an outcry that practices in rural areas will be forced to close.

The so-called Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG) is being ditched in a move that local politicians and campaigners have claimed is further undermining key services in countryside communities. Yesterday the YorkshireDalesNational Park agreed at their board meeting to lobby for the MPIG changes to be looked at again. Some practices now face a 35% cut in funding.

Whilst larger practices will be able to absorb the additional work load, smaller surgeries in the rural areas of Cumbria, Lancashire and North Yorkshire will suffer a real risk of closure under the pressure. Along with poor public transport links and difficult winter weather conditions in these rural areas, this would be devastating for people needing emergency medical care. Tim has called for changes to the policy without delay.

Tim said: "In rural areas like ours the GP practice is the home for many vital health services and clinics. In the last few years we have worked hard to make sure investment goes into these centres and together we have made a big difference. This shift to move healthcare into our communities has paid massive dividends and I am worried that these funding changes would put that at risk.

"I am seriously urging the government to reconsider these damaging policies and ease the pressure that vital GP surgeries are facing."