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Farron welcomes PM's commitment to look at MPIG GP funding issue

October 11, 2013 11:00 AM

Tim and the Lib Dems at WGHAfter a question to the Prime Minister on the issue of rural GP's and the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG), South Lakes MP Tim Farron has followed this up with a letter asking the Prime Minister to 'protect GP surgeries in Westmorland and Witney'.

At Prime Ministers Questions, Mr Cameron said:"I will look carefully at the case the hon. Gentleman makes. I, too, represent a large rural constituency where there are still small practices. It is the case, however, that many more doctors' surgeries are offering many more services with practice nurses and other assistance given to patients. We want to see that growing, not least to make sure that people can go to GP surgeries rather than accident and emergency units if it is a GP that they need, but I will look at the specific point that he makes."

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. Recently 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:"I welcome that the Prime Minister will look at the situation, but we need him to actually get involved in the detail and not just listen to civil servants. Hundreds of people in South Lakeland rely on our GP practices. People in Westmorland and in the Prime Minister's own constituency of Witney will gain if we can change this. I hope he will do that. I will keep pushing on this and doing all I can to protect surgeries in our area."