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MP asks for Westminster debate on rural GP funding

February 11, 2014 3:41 PM

Tim in WestminsterSouth Lakes MP Tim Farron has asked the Speaker of the House of Commons for a parliamentary debate on rural GP funding.

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 Yorkshire Dales National Park and South Lakeland District Council lobbied 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. 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 has asked for a Westminster Hall or an Adjournment debate to discuss the issue.

Tim said: "In the last couple of years we have worked hard to secure major investment for surgeries throughout South Lakeland. Many of the practices now hold clinics and do minor surgery. I hope that bidding for this debate will keep this issue high up on the agenda.

"I will keep fighting as hard as I can to defend our rural GP practices - they are at the heart of communities like Hawkshead and Coniston."