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Farron: Govt must protect rural GP practices

March 25, 2014 12:08 PM

TF ruralSouth Lakes MP Tim Farron will tomorrow say in a debate in Parliament that rural GP practices are at risk unless the Government tell NHS England to step in and offer a new funding solution.

Tim has secured a Westminster Hall debate to discuss the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG), which is currently used to top up practices' core funding to match their basic income levels.

The Government announced in 2012 that the will phase out MPIG over the next seven years in order to achieve 'equitable core funding'. As a result of the changes some practices now face a 35% cut in funding. Tim has worked with local health campaigners to lobby NHS England and has met with the BMA to discuss the issue. 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 face 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 urgent medical care. Tim has called for changes to the policy without delay.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and South Lakeland District Council have both agreed to lobby for the MPIG changes to be looked at again.

In the debate tomorrow, Tim will say: "In my constituency, two practices stand out as being in need of immediate aid from NHS England and the Department of Health. Hawkshead and Coniston, two communities in the central Lake District, are about as remote as you can get in England. Both communities have a GPs surgery, both surgeries are at risk due to unsustainable funding."

"In other words, Ministers need to state unequivocally that they wish NHS England to protect small, strategically vital GP surgeries and that they expect a formal fund to be set up to make this so. A small strategic surgeries fund - much as our Government has done to protect small strategically important schools in rural areas. It will cost a little, but it will save a lot."

"My constituents deserve access to good local GP services as much as anyone in London or Manchester. Unless we tackle this problem, my constituents will be put at unacceptable risk."