Almost 100 practices could be threatened by changes to the way they are funded, GP leaders have warned toady.
Minimum practice income guarantee (MPIG) will be phased out from April 2014, the government announced last year.
But the British Medical Association (BMA) claims MPIG provides a “financial lifeline” for many smaller GP practices, by guaranteeing a minimum level of funding that is not dependent on the number of patients a GP practice has on its practice list.
NHS England have identified 98 practices that will lose substantial levels of funding, which the BMA believes could put their “long-term survival in question”.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA’s GP committee said the government has “seriously misjudged” the impact of MPIG funding changes, particularly on rural practices.
He said: “The government has not confirmed where these practices are or the extent of their financial difficulty, however some will be smaller GP practices in rural communities with comparatively small number of patients registered with them. These GPs provide vital services to patients in areas where accessing healthcare is already not easy because of the large distances patients have to travel to get to their local NHS services. If these practices were to close it could leave large geographical areas without a nearby GP practice.
“The situation has not been helped by NHS England’s decision to devolve responsibility for this issue to local NHS managers without a framework on how these GP practices should be supported. We are without a national plan of how to tackle this problem and safeguard GP services.
“Ministers have to get a grip on this problem urgently given these funding reductions are just weeks away from being implemented. We need to ensure no practice closes and that there is a coordinated approach to deal with this issue.”