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Thousands sign petition to save east London GP surgeries

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More than 20 GP surgeries in east London may be forced to close because of a change in the way they are funded, according to campaigners who have taken their concerns to the prime minister.

On Wednesday practice staff and patients from the Save Our Surgeries campaign delivered a petition signed by over 20,000 people to 10 Downing Street.

“We need a long term urgent solution to the MPIG crisis and to other practices facing similar cuts to essential funding”

Chaand Nagpaul

Many GP practices across England say they are facing funding shortfalls following the government’s decision to phase out the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG) from April 20141.

The MPIG provides additional support to practices working in challenging circumstances, such as those serving large rural areas or practices looking after deprived communities.

NHS England has acknowledged that 98 practices will lose significant funding under the changes, while hundreds more will also be affected.

In London, 22 practices in Tower Hamlets, Newham and Hackney say they are facing the prospect of closure as the MPIG cuts start to take effect. 

GPs from the area handed in the petition to Downing Street at 12.30pm yesterday.

The campaigners made a similar visit to the DH in Whitehall last month and over a 1,000 people took part in a march on 8 July.

Save Our Surgeries

Save Our Surgeries supporters march in July

The British Medical Association, which has given its backing to the campaign, said the government must act to help the threatened GP practices

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the union’s GP committee, said: “The BMA has been warning the government for well over a year that its decision to phase out MPIG would leave a number of practices in challenging circumstances at risk from closure.

Chaand Nagpaul BMA

Chaand Nagpaul

“The Tower Hamlets practices have to provide care to some of the most deprived areas in London where the population has significant health needs. They are likely to struggle to provide these services unless the government takes urgent action,” he said.

“We need a long term urgent solution to the MPIG crisis and to those many other practices across the country facing similar cuts to essential funding,” he added.

An NHS England spokesman said the decision to phase out the MPIG was designed to make GP funding “more equitable”.

“The majority of practices in London will gain as a result, however we recognise the unique financial challenges that some GP practices are facing as a result of these changes,” he said.

He added that NHS England was working with local clinical commissioning groups and GP representatives to consider what “arrangements might be put in place to support those affected”.

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