A SOUTH Lakes MP is calling for a parliamentary debate on rural GP funding before Coniston and Hawkshead surgeries are forced to close.

Mr Farron has made the plea to the speaker of the House of Commons, following the news that a compensation payment for surgeries with low footfall is due to be phased out from next year.

This has prompted an outcry that practices in rural areas - including Coniston and Hawkshead - could be forced to close.

“In the last couple of years we have worked hard to secure major investment for surgeries throughout South Lakeland,” he said.

“Many of the practices now hold clinics and do minor surgery. I hope that bidding for this debate will keep this issue high up on the agenda.

“I will keep fighting as hard as I can to defend our rural GP practices – they are at the heart of communities like Hawkshead and Coniston.”

The Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG) is being ditched in a move that local politicians and campaigners have claimed is further undermining key services in countryside communities.

Recently the Yorkshire Dales National Park and South Lakeland District Council lobbied for the MPIG changes to be looked at again.

But some practices still face a 35 per cent cut in funding - and smaller surgeries in the rural areas of Cumbria, Lancashire and North Yorkshire will suffer a real risk of closure.

Last year hundreds of people attended a public meeting and one of Mr Farron's constituency surgeries in a bid to stop the cut going ahead, while more than 450 people have now signed an e-petition calling for the surgeries to remain open.

“We do not want villagers to lose this service and we need their support if we are to fight these changes,” said Dr Jane Rimington, of Hawkshead Medical Practice.

Mr Farron has now asked for a Westminster Hall or an Adjournment debate to discuss the issue.

The e-petition can be signed at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/51875