It’s been impossible to ignore the news about growing pressure in the NHS.
And behind the headlines there are powerful individual stories. Surgeries, like Devonshire Green and Hanover Medical Centres in my constituency, face an uncertain future because the Government is withdrawing funding designed to support GPs in areas with special needs.
Devonshire Green and Hanover is a highly regarded inner-city practice, and its GPs and medical staff do a great job. They are being penalised because they serve a disadvantaged area with above-average health needs. Seeing lots of patients with complicated poor health means they need extra support. That’s why the last Labour Government introduced a special funding pot to help such surgeries in Sheffield and around the country.
Now the Government is withdrawing this vital funding (called the ‘minimum practice income guarantee’) – and as a result an estimated 100 GP surgeries across the country face potential bankruptcy and closure. It says everything about this Government’s attitude to the NHS that they’re threatening the future of GP surgeries that serve the most vulnerable patients.
It’s essential that we challenge this decision. That’s why I joined patients and GPs at Devonshire Green and Hanover on Monday to help launch their campaign against this funding cut. Their petition urges Ministers and NHS England to halt the cuts and provide fair funding for our GP surgeries.
I’ve already raised these concerns in Parliament with the Ministers responsible and I’ll keep on pressing the case until they listen. And last week, when I raised it again, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham pledged to stop the withdrawal of this funding and review the decision before any practice closes. But this is an issue that needs support from us all, and quickly.
When Nye Bevan founded the NHS in 1948, he said it “will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it”. This has never been more true. Wherever your GP surgery is based, I hope that you will support this important campaign. Call into the Devonshire Green or Hanover Medical Centres to sign the petition or sign it online www.devonshiregreenandhanover.co.uk