Emily Thornberry Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury
GP surgeries are the lifeblood of the NHS, delivering 90% of the care the NHS provides. But there is a quiet crisis brewing in primary care, especially in inner London, where there are dozens of practices teetering on the edge of collapse as a result of the Tories’ unfair funding changes…
Under the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG), practices in deprived areas like inner London for many years received top-up funding in recognition of the additional burdens that often come with serving diverse populations in areas with high levels of deprivation, together with all the chronic, complex health problems associated with it.
But the Tories cut this funding last year, leaving no safety net in its place.
The Department of Health has now revealed, in response to my Parliamentary Questions, that at least 43 practices in England have closed their doors since these changes came into effect in April last year. But this is really just the tip of a much larger iceberg, with almost 3,000 practices nationally having relied on the lifeline MPIG provided.
This funding went to about a third of all GP practices in the country, representing only the areas with the highest levels of need. But in my constituency almost three quarters of practices -; 72% – relied on that financial support.
I was pleased when Jeremy Hunt agreed to review the funding formula to reflect the needs of deprived inner-city areas like Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Islington. But that in itself isn’t enough to stave off disaster. It’s likely that the new formula won’t take effect until 2017, and practices cannot be expected to tread water in the meantime.
That’s why I’ve called on the Government to provide an urgent financial reprieve to these struggling practices, and I will continue to fight for the resources that Primary Care needs to survive.