Hackney GPs, residents, patients and community supporters marched on Thursday 5 June, in protest of the potential closure of GP surgeries, following a change to how practices are funded that came into force this April. Figures provided by the Hackney Medical Committee indicate that 12 surgeries will be forced to close, out of 43 in the borough. The withdrawing of the minimum practice income guarantee (MPIG) is threatening large numbers of innercity surgeries with bankruptcy, as the guarantee took into account the fact that in deprived areas people have higher health needs.
Dr Sarah Williams, a Hackney GP who has launched a 38degrees petition on the matter, said: “Often the best practices have the highest MPIG. Firms of medical accountants who have 100 London GP practices on their books were asked to look at the effects of the cuts to MPIG. They said practices with fewer patients per doctor with smaller disease prevalence rates are probably doing a good job, but will lose out.” The reduction of funding will hit all innercity and rurally deprived areas of the UK. This will have a dramatic effect on the healthcare of already deprived ethnic and minority communities and may result in the most vulnerable not being able to access their Doctors.
Dr Sarah Williams believes the government is targeting poor areas in order to push it’s agenda of increasing privatisation of the health service. Amaia Portelli, a Practice Manager at Barton House group practice who was on the March, agreed. She said: “There needs to be a formula in particular that reflects the extra needs of the demographic of the east London area” and added “if the government want the A+E to be reduced they need to invest in Primary Care.”
Speaking with the Big Issue online journalists a Hackney resident on the March, said: “I think that we need to support our local G.P. I think that this is horrendous and really an attempt to privatise our local surgeries.”
Another resident, Stephanie said:”I have been patients with the surgery for the last 30 years and I’m fighting to keep a surgery that will look after me”
Responding to the public criticism an NHS spokesman said in a press statement “GPs were informed two years ago that the MPIG would be phased out over a 7 year period and changes started in April 2014. However, we do understand the challenges that some London GPs are facing as a result of the changes. That is why we have met with some practices and have established a working group with the Office of London CCGs and Local Medical Committees from across the capital to consider what arrangements might be put in place to support those affected.”