GPs’ union launches petition to save smaller practices

MP Tim Farron

MP Tim Farron

First published in News

A PETITION has been launched by a powerful medical union to save struggling GP practices such as Hawkshead and Coniston.

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the National Association for Patient Participation have joined up to launch a campaign to stop swingeing cuts – including those inflicted upon a government grant given to rural surgeries with lower footfall.

A petition and poster showing long queues outside GP surgeries – branded a ‘nightmare vision of the future’ – will be sent out to every surgery in the UK over the coming weeks.

“I hope people will sign it and show their support,” said South Lakes MP Tim Farron.

“This is a national campaign but it holds particular significance for the smaller, rural surgeries that are struggling to survive.”

The Gazette reported last year that the planned reduction in compensation for smaller surgeries - known as the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee - could spell disaster for both Hawkshead and Coniston.

They are two of around 100 surgeries facing such a fate.

But the cuts were implemented on April 1 despite warnings from GPs - and Coniston has now had a seventh of its income cut after losing the grant. “There are fewer than 100 of these small, rural surgeries at risk, so saving them all wouldn’t be the most expensive thing to do,” continued Mr Farron.

“It makes no sense to keep on with these cuts that could put surgeries at risk of closure in areas where patients would struggle to get to a surgery elsewhere.”

The national campaign has been launched after research revealed the number of patient consultations had soared to an all-time high while funding for general practice had dropped to an historic low.

Dr Maureen Baker, RCGP chair, said: "General practice across the UK is on the edge, with GP workloads ballooning, funding for general practice plummeting and up to 100 practices at risk of closure in the next year.”

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