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Patients ask government to provide more funding for NHS in Mid-Essex

They hope online petition will force a Commons debate on fairer funding

Mark Gould

Friday, 30 October 2015

Patients at OnMedica blogger Dr John Cormack's Greenwood surgery in Essex surgery have mounted an online campaign calling for more equitable funding for their county in a bid to protect GP services and improve secondary care.

They say that the spending allocation received by Mid-Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, which is £81 less per head of population than the national average, is having a damaging effect on GP services.

The CCG has been forced to make a series of controversial cuts over recent years, such as axing IVF services, in a bid to cut historic deficits. Over the next two years, it must cut £16m worth of services to break even.

Securing 10,000 signatures to an online petition set up on the government's official petitions website will mean that ministers will be compelled to respond to their concerns. If the petition hits 100,000 signatures, it will spark a Commons debate.

The Greenwood Patient Participation Group (PPG) has made contact with all the other practices in Mid-Essex, and via them all their PPGs, and asked them to sign their e-petition, which has attracted 137 signatures so far.

Patient Ian Gillard, one of the brains behind the campaign, said: “If patients can work together to bring about change in the way the NHS works, and it's seen to be to the benefit of all, it will make those running the Health Service sit up and take notice. It's very early days yet but, if this campaign takes off, I can see other PPGs all over the land following our example.”

Dr Cormack said: “The underfunding of Mid-Essex has been a long-running problem and I applaud this attempt to do something about it.”

Besides the underfunding issue, Dr Cormack added that he has also fought a long battle to secure a more equitable share of the existing Mid-Essex's funding.

“One example of what I mean can be found right here in my own practice. This month I have had to transfer over £8,000 quid of my own money into the practice account in order to keep us within our £25,000 overdraft limit and pay the staff. Bear in mind that I'm a single-handed GP with 4,300 patients and we hit nearly all the targets – so it's is a truly unique situation."

A spokesperson for Mid-Essex CCG said: "The health economy in Mid-Essex has been identified as one of the 11 most financially challenged in the county - we have been underfunded for years which is one of the reasons we have a deficit.

"Residents are incredibly passionate about health services and we have been actively listening to their experiences over the past year or so, and trying to give people an honest picture of our budget and how we plan to buy services. We remain committed to putting patients at the heart of our decision making and thank our patient groups and wider communities for their ongoing support to ensure we get the best health services possible."

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