Doctors battle cuts to funding

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield
Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield
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A Sheffield MP has spoken out in Parliament over the plight of local GP surgeries which could face closure following cuts to a special funding pot.

Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, said five practices in the city - two in his constituency - are threatened by the withdrawal of extra money which supports surgeries catering for patients with complex and demanding health needs.

The Government began withdrawing the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee in April, and plans to phase it out over the next seven years.

Mr Blomfield said the income guarantee met the ‘particular needs of specific practices’.

“Those needs have not changed,” he said. “NHS England has drawn up a list of 100 practices across the country that will be threatened. Five are in Sheffield. Two are in my constituency.

“Local GPs have expressed serious concerns to me about the consequences of this vital funding being withdrawn. No-one wants to see service cutbacks having to be made which is why I’m raising this issue now before the situation gets critical.”

He added: “The Government should be talking to GP surgeries now and rethinking this decision.”

Dr Graham Pettinger, a partner at the Hanover Street and Devonshire Green Medical Centres, said his practice was set to lose £140,000 a year.

“We have no intention of closing - we are going to fight this every step of the way,” he said.

“This is a national decision to withdraw the funding. But if this funding was not replaced, then in theory it could threaten the survival of the practice.”

Dr Pettinger said his centres had a high number of patients living in deprivation, with mental health problems or multiple physical ailments. Translators are often needed to help non-English speaking patients.

Mr Blomfield said he would be ‘seeking a meeting with Ministers to press the issue further’.