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BMA warns lack of MPIG support will close GP practices

LMC conference to hear of MPIG phase-out threats

Adrian O'Dowd

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Patient services are under real threat and GP practices could close because of a lack of support from NHS England over the phase out of the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG), GPs will be told today.

On the opening day of today’s annual local medical committees (LMCs) conference being held by the BMA in York, delegates will hear of the problems caused by the winding down of the MPIG.

BMA’s GP committee chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul has released a letter he has sent to Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England which details his concerns over the lack of support given to GP practices affected by the decision to end the MPIG funding.

MPIG was introduced as part of the 2004 GP contract to smooth the transition to new funding arrangements.

The government has argued that MPIG funding is not weighted to reflect the demographics of a practice population, so is not an equitable way of providing funding to practices. It is phasing it out over a seven-year-period from April of this year.

In March of last year NHS England assured doctors that a process would be put in place to support those practices most adversely affected, including the 98 NHS England identified as being at risk of closure.

However, the BMA said that 12 months on, there was little evidence of meaningful support having been provided despite repeated concerns being raised over the effect it was having on practices around the country.

In his letter to Mr Stevens, Dr Nagpaul, writes: “I am writing to express my concern at NHS England’s handling of the process for phasing out MPIG correction factor payments to GP practices which has become a critical issue for our members. I believe that this poses a serious risk to the delivery of services to patients.

“We warned about the inaction that would result from NHS England leaving decisions about how to deal with adversely affected practices to area teams. These fears have unfortunately been realised.”

There had been no sense of area teams proactively attempting to find solutions to the funding problems faced by these practices, he added.

The BMA had been contacted by a number of practices, in and outside of the 98 identified outlier practices, who had been informed by their area teams that they were not able to provide such support, either due to funding problems or a lack of central direction.

“If this situation is allowed to continue there will be a real and imminent threat to services provided to patients, with some practices at risk of closure,” he writes.

In one case highlighted by the BMA, Dr Steve Kite, a single handed practitioner in Hertfordshire, said his practice faced a funding drop of as much as £62,000 over the next seven years.

Dr Kite said: “The removal of MPIG means that I will simply not be able to employ enough staff, deliver suitable services or keep my building in the right state for patients.

“I am frankly disappointed by the way this has been handled, particularly the decision to dump this on local area teams to sort out. There is not a national plan of any form to stop practices closing.”

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