Sheffield MPs seek ‘urgent’ meeting over GP funding cuts

(r-l) Dr Graham Pettinger, receptionists Becky and Christine and Dr Helen Briddon of Devonshire Green Medical Centre are unhappy at government cuts to funding which will affect 60 practices across the city. Picture: Andrew Roe

(r-l) Dr Graham Pettinger, receptionists Becky and Christine and Dr Helen Briddon of Devonshire Green Medical Centre are unhappy at government cuts to funding which will affect 60 practices across the city. Picture: Andrew Roe

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MPs in Sheffield are seeking an ‘urgent meeting’ with health bosses over funding changes which threaten GP surgeries.

Some 62 out of 87 GP surgeries in Sheffield face ‘detrimental’ funding cuts – meaning surgeries such as Page Hall Medical Centre may close, while bosses at Sothall and Beighton Medical Practice have been looking at closing the Beighton site to save cash.

Harry Harpham, Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough MP, said: “These proposals have implications across the city. We as MPs will be seeking an urgent meeting with the CCG before they make a decision.

“The closure of Page Hall surgery would have a hugely detrimental impact on one of the most deprived areas not just in Sheffield, but the country. It’s clearly a cost-cutting measure imposed by government but it would have a terrible impact.”

Page Hall’s surgery has a large proportion of Roma Slovak patients and Dr Kate Bellingham, a GP at the practice, warned: “They are a population of great need.”

She said the cuts could hit that community hard.

“We believe we meet their needs by offering focused care. We block book interpreters so we can see them regularly and routinely.”

An NHS England plan being implemented by NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group means £2.8 million of extra funding currently given to some ‘PMS contract’ surgeries is being removed and redistributed across all surgeries equally.

It comes on top of plans to phase out the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee over the next seven years, meaning some GP practices could lose as much as £140,000 income, threatening another six surgeries, including Devonshire Green Medical Centre.

Dr Graham Pettinger, a partner at centre, said: “As far as our practice is concerned, only 4.6 per cent of the PMS premium would be needed to save our practice from closure – surely a small price to pay for preventing a deepening of health inequalities in the city centre.”

The CCG has moved to reduce fears for potentially closing surgeries.

It has announced an extra £3.4 million of funding, with a further £600,000 set aside for at-risk practices.

In a statement, the CCG said: “The loss of funding as a result of this policy will be offset by the CCG’s redistribution of £2.8m per year of that funding, and a further proposed investment of £4m over the next four years to help maintain GP services and in areas that need it most.

“The move to equalise funding, led by NHS England, is an attempt to level out funding for providing existing services, but which does not necessarily address pockets of local need.

“The CCG is set to establish a process whereby practices can tell them if they think services are at risk.

“This will amount to new investment of more than £600,000 over the next 
three to four years.”

Tim Moorhead, CCG chairman, said: “Half a dozen practices will have a significant cashflow issue. We are looking at how we support them. We have to think what we can do with this national policy, to smooth out as much of the disadvantages it is going to have.

“We don’t want practices to close. We will do all we can to keep surgeries open.”

An NHS England spokesman said: “We need to ensure an equitable approach to funding and, with that in mind, a review of PMS contracts has been carried out. These changes will not result in any reduction in overall GP funding in Sheffield.

“The purpose is to ensure that, where GP practices receive extra funding, this is fairly and transparently linked to the quality of care they provide or local needs.”

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