Stoke Newington Practices will be among the many affected by the withdrawal of the
Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG)
“In 2004 the government changed the funding formula for GP surgeries and didn’t take account of the fact that in deprived areas people have higher health needs.
Many practices would have gone bankrupt, so they introduced something called the ‘minimum practice income guarantee’ (MPIG) to stop practices falling below their previous level of income. Now the government is taking away the MPIG and many practices are threatened with bankruptcy again.
Good quality surgeries (who spend the most, employing more staff to provide the best possible service to patients) will be the first to go. This will open the door for more GP surgeries run by large private firms on the cheap.”
Statement on the 38 Degrees petition started by Sarah Williams at the Nightingale Practice
What’s going on? The government originally targetted these funds (the MPIG) at surgeries in deprived areas because there was a larger incidence of disease for the patient group size. Funding is based on the number of registered patients so these practices were financially disadvantaged. The MPIG made up for that. That situation hasn’t changed.
For different reasons the MPIG also goes to rural practices with small patient groups spread over large geographical areas. Both sets of practices will now lose out.
The government intends to distribute the money differently, concentrating on the age demographic of the patient group without distinguishing between affluent and deprived areas. There is a convincing argument that this is unfair – and also sort-sighted as poor health care in earlier years is a good marker for serious and expensive problems in old age. Some say that this is part of a deep conspiracy to privatise the health service; others, a desperate scramble to save money; but you don’t have to believe either of these to see that this is a bad thing.
The results will be that some surgeries will become unviable and will close. Others will need to expand their patient numbers considerably while their income will remain static. They will inevitably have to offer a reduced service, whether this is done by reduced deferrals, shorter appointments, longer waiting to see a GP or in other ways. No doubt the practices will attempt to alter their way of working to adjust to their straightened situations but they will undoubtedly be under severe pressure. If they close, or even if they don’t, the pressure will spread to ther surgeries in the area.
It is not in the interests of anyone who is a patient in Stoke Newington, or for the local population generally, to allow this to happen. So signing the petition is important.
But it’s also important that patients act pro-actively. This is the first time that many of these practices, apart from individual doctors, have asked for help from their patients. It is not appropriate for GPs who are dealing with people in ill-health to be politically active, so it is for patients acting through the Patient Participation Groups at each surgery who have to take the fight forward.
At a meeting on the 3rd June, the Patient Participation Group at Stoke Newington’s Statham Grove Surgery voted to support their GPs in opposing the abolition of the MPIG. How this will be done or what actions will be taken is at present unsure although we hope one of our members will attend the Tower Hamlets march today .