Fears rural GP surgeries might have to close

York Press: William Hague William Hague

RURAL GP surgeries in North Yorkshire could face closure unless immediate action is taken to stave off a funding crisis, a health watchdog has warned.

Conservative-controlled North Yorkshire County Council’s scrutiny of health committee has heard many doctors in the region fear the phasing out of a payment scheme which supports them will leave huge shortfalls.

One estimates his practice could lose about £78,000 a year.

The Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG) system is used to provide compensation to small practices in remote areas, topping up their core funding, but it is now set to be axed in April under Government plans.

Prime Minister David Cameron has previously said he would “personally” look into the implications of the proposals.

Coun Jim Clark, who chairs the scrutiny committee, has written to NHS England – the main body responsible for commissioning GP services – following a meeting this week.

He said the danger to rural surgeries needed to be urgently addressed, as the MPIG withdrawal could leave some communities with inadequate local health care if doctors decide their practice is no longer viable.

He said: “We have great concern over the long-term funding of GP services in North Yorkshire.

“It is essential that practices are properly funded, particularly in rural areas where the cost of providing local access is so much higher.”

Foreign Secretary and Richmond MP William Hague recently chaired a meeting on health-care services in his constituency.

He has said the “unique difficulties” of providing care in rural areas needs to be factored into funding decisions.

The Department of Health said phasing out MPIG was intended to achieve “better value” for the NHS by preventing some practices receiving thousands of pounds more in funding than others with similar patient numbers and needs.

It said any changes would be introduced over seven years to allow practices to adapt gradually.

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