BMA warning on GP funding changes
Published on 21 February 2014 12:30 PM
Some patients in rural areas of England could be left without a GP practice as a result of reductions in national funding, the British Medical Association (BMA) has warned.
The Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG) funding arrangement is being phased out by Government ministers over a 7-year period beginning in April.
Currently, many smaller GP practices receive a minimum level of funding through the MPIG scheme that is not linked to the number of patients that they have on their roll.
BMA officials have warned that up to 100 GP practices may no longer be viable as a result of the change, including some which 'provide vital services to thousands of rural patients'.
A list of 98 'outlier' practices that stand to lose more than £3 per patient per year has been unveiled by NHS England, although some of the practices mentioned could lose up to £100 per patient annually.
Government 'seriously misjudged' impact of changes
Accusations that doing away with the MPIG payment would hit rural practices disproportionately were denied by NHS England officials, who said that such practices make up less than 15% of the 98 while accounting for 18% of all practices in England.
However, BMA GP Committee chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said that other practices outside the 98 would be 'severely affected' and that the Government had 'seriously misjudged' the impact that the change would bring about.
As well as criticising the move at a time of 'rising workload and declines in overall levels of funding', Dr Nagpaul said it was likely that a 'few hundred practices' would lose noticeable levels of funding.
Dr Nagpaul also expressed his frustration that ministers had yet to confirm where the 98 practices on the list were located or what their financial state was like, but said it was likely that some would be 'smaller GP practices in rural communities with comparatively small numbers of patients registered with them'.
Warning that large geographical areas could be left without a nearby GP practice, Dr Nagpaul said that such GPs 'provide vital services to patients in areas where accessing healthcare is already not easy because of the large distances patients have to travel to get to their local NHS services'.
Copyright Press Association 2014