South Lakes MP Tim Farron has written to the Chief Executive of both the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District National Park Authorities to ask them if they will look at creating a 'strategic reserve' fund that could be used to fill the funding gap for GP practices within the national parks.
The Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG) is being ditched in a move that local politicians and campaigners have claimed is further undermining key services in rural communities. About 65% of practices in England benefit from MPIG funding, with some receiving as much as half their core pay from the top-up.
Tim is calling on the government to amend the funding formula to take rurality into account. Tim is also asking for the government to allow NHS England to take into account the extra cost of providing services in a rural area.
As a backstop he has asked the National Park Authorities if they will agree to meet any shortfall should it be needed. The idea came from Hawkshead and High Furness councillor David Fletcher. This morning so many people came to speak to Tim at the Coniston stop of his annual advice surgery tour the village's institute needed to be opened up so everyone could see him.
A report written by consultancy Deloitte for NHS Employers in 2006 said more than 300 practices in England were 10km or more from the nearest surgery. Eighty of these had fewer than 1,900 patients and were likely to be 'unavoidably small', with above average costs because of their remote location.
Tim said: "I have asked the National Park Authorities if they will agree in principle to look at a way of filling the funding gap that surgeries within their boundaries maybe facing. I will keep working with other MPs and lobbying as hard as I can on this issue and I hope we get the same result as we did on rural schools funding.
"But this solution could offer us a backstop and keep vital services open in the Lakes and Dales in the interim."
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