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MP asks ministers to safeguard rural GP practices

April 1, 2014 5:36 PM

Tim in WestminsterSouth Lakes MP Tim Farron used Health Questions this morning to step up his campaign to protect rural GP practices.

On the floor of the House of Commons, Tim asked the Government to create a strategic small surgeries fund for rural GP practices like those in Coniston and Hawkshead.

Small rural practices are facing an issue because of the removal of the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG). Local politicians and campaigners have claimed the move is further undermining key services in countryside communities. Some practices now face a 35% cut in funding, potentially removing thousands of pounds from a practice, making it unsustainable.

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.

Health officials have confirmed that around 100 practices, including some in Cumbria, are currently heavily reliant on the MPIG - officials have previously said that these practices will not receive any form of protection when the funding is gradually removed over seven years from April 2014.

Tim said: "My question in Parliament this morning gave me another opportunity to press the Government on this vital issue. 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 will keep lobbying the Government to create a strategic small surgeries fund and to use that fund to protect GP surgeries in Cumbria."