Doctors warn of ‘catastrophic meltdown’ in
services as changes in funding begin to bite

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GP SURGERIES face a “catastrophic meltdown” because of changes to the way NHS money is allocated, leading family doctors have warned.

The Royal College of General Practitioners claimed that it has been inundated with calls from surgeries struggling to pay their bills since changes to funding introduced in April. It says 98 GP practices in the UK are at risk of imminent closure and called for an emergency £15m Government bailout.

As well as leaving 700,000 patients without a family doctor, the knock-on effect would also cause delays for millions of patients at other surgeries, it warned.

The Government last month started phasing out the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG) over a seven-year period.

MPIG guaranteed a minimum level of funding that was not dependent on the number of patients on the practice list.

The Yorkshire Post revealed last year that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt had acknowledged concerns about the “potential impact” of ending MPIG, but remained adamant the overhaul would go ahead.

In a letter printed in The Times, Professor Nigel Mathers, the RCGP’s honorary secretary, said: “General practice is on the verge of a catastrophic meltdown, with nearly 100 GP practices facing closure within months due to the phasing out of the (MPIG).

So grave is the threat to patient care in places such as Essex, Leicester, Sheffield, Cumbria and east London, the RCGP is calling for an emergency fund to help the practices affected.

In due course 1,700 practices could be affected by the changes with the care of 12.2 million patients under serious threat.”

It added that funding for general practice has “fallen to an all time low”.

Earlier this year NHS England published an anonymised list of 98 ‘outlier’ practices that could lose more than £3 per patient per year.

Some practices on the list will lose more than £100 per patient per year while others stand to lose around £20 or £30 per patient.

The BMA had warned that large areas of rural England could be left with no GP practice, but NHS England denied phasing out MPIG will have a disproportionate impact village practices.