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Farron Calls For Top-Up Funding For Rural GPs

February 24, 2016 12:10 PM

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron has renewed his call for the establishment of a 'Strategic Small Surgeries Fund', as the NHS commissions a review into funding 'atypical practices' including those in very rural areas.

NHS England has confirmed that a working group is being set up to investigate ways to support 'atypical' practices that are not adequately supported by existing contractual arrangements. This would include GP surgeries in very rural locations.

Tim has written to NHS England's Head of Primary Care Commissioning to welcome the review, and to ask for South Lakeland to be included in the review as a case study of practices in rural areas. Tim has long campaigned for a fairer funding deal for rural surgeries, and also renewed his calls for the establishment of a 'Strategic Small Surgeries Fund' to assist those based in rural areas.

Rural GP surgeries face years of further cuts, as the 'Minimum Practice Income Guarantee' (MPIG) correction factor payments are phased out over seven years. The latest round of cuts will be due in April. There will also be additional pressure on some surgeries due to changes to the Personal Medical Services (PMS) agreements which will see practices face further cuts.

Tim said: "Rural GP surgeries, such as the ones in Hawkshead and Coniston, do not have the same economies of scale that surgeries in big cities have, but that doesn't make them any less essential for the local people that rely on them.

"As these rural surgeries face further cuts, it is reassuring to see that NHS England has recognised that 'atypical' practices can get left behind by a one-size-fits-all funding formula. I have written to NHS England to ask that South Lakeland be included in the review as a rural area case study. I am also calling for a 'Strategic Small Surgeries Fund', to ensure that small rural surgeries get the support they need and are not overlooked.

"In far too many areas, the government's eagerness to cut budgets means it is overlooking the very specific funding needs of services in rural areas, and harming those who rely on the services."