GP closure campaigners urge caution over new Sheffield cash pledge

Staff at Page Hall Medical Centre whos jobs are under threat due to funding cuts
Staff at Page Hall Medical Centre whos jobs are under threat due to funding cuts
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Pledges of extra cash for threatened GP surgeries in Sheffield have been met with mixed feelings by campaigners.

A total of 62 out of 87 GP practices in Sheffield face a reduction in funding thanks to changes in funding announced by NHS England and the NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group.

Several surgeries including Page Hall Medical Centre warned the proposals mean they face closure after proposals to scrap extra funding given to some surgeries, known as PMS premiums, and redistribute the money equally.

However, the CCG has pledged to provide an extra £4 million to threatened practices.

Dr Graham Pettinger, a partner at the Hanover Street and Devonshire Green Medical Centres in the city centre, said: “We’re of course pleased the CCG has stated it is intending to offer some support to practices in difficult circumstances, but this has not been either quantified or guaranteed.

“No assessment of the impact on health inequality was made in relation to the CCG proposal of how to use this money.

“We strongly contest that failure to use some of this money to save ‘deepest end’ practices from closing, without guaranteeing that this issue will be addressed by another mechanism, is wrong.”

And Save Our NHS Sheffield campaigner Mike Simpkin slammed some of the CCG’s comments as ‘misleading’.

He said: “It’s good the CCG has responded to patient, professional and public pressure by offering greater flexibility to general practices in difficulty than was apparent in its original proposals.

“However the CCG’s statement is seriously misleading when it claims the loss of funding to practices in the city will be offset by the CCG’s redistribution.

“It is unlikely the £600,000 now on offer will be able to fund all these services and there are no specific promises made.

“Patients and practices will have to keep up their campaigns to save the services they value most.”

Dr Tim Moorhead, CCG chairman, said, “We have been listening to practices and will be considering how we redistribute the money, which will create some flexibility in how we respond locally to practices.

“The options will be made public next week, prior to a meeting of the CCG governing body.

“There is little or no link between the type of contract a practice has and the level of needs of their patients.

“The national process of equalising practice income aims to address this disparity. However, the CCG is proposing to invest a further 
£4 million in general practices over the next four years.”