Doctors still in dark over funding cuts

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The future of some of the district’s smaller doctors surgeries remains unclear as GPs wait for funding cuts to kick in.

It was announced earlier this year that extra funding for rural practices, such as Egton and Danby, was being cut.

However, practice managers fear it will lead to staff losses and a reduction in the services that can be offered.

Dr Julian Fester, from the Egton branch, told the Gazette these services are essential in the Esk Valley due to its isolated location and number of older patients who struggle with access to town.

Egton surgery has 2300 patients on the books of which a quarter are over the age of 65 and the statistics for Danby are similar.

He is due to meet with health bosses from NHS England on Monday to find out what, if anything, the government is planning to do to help practices such as his.

The government has been lobbied by GPs around the country after it was announced the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG), a top up of practice’s core funding, will be axed from April.

Health secretary, Jeremy Hunt has met with local MPs to gain feedback on the plan and the Prime Minister David Cameron recently told MPs he would “personally” look at the implications.

Dr Fester said: “What we don’t know yet is whether we are deemed to be a practice that is heavily reliant on MPIG, neither do our colleagues at Danby.

“We think we are but whether the NHS thinks we are, we don’t know. At the meeting hopefully they will have some further information. At the moment the situation is still unclear - patients have been very unsettled, the doctors are very unsettled as we can’t plan for the future until we know what’s going on.”

He added that while it didn’t affect treatments, he was unable to replace a retired staff member which was having an impact on workload for the other staff.

Should cuts go ahead, he warned services offered at Egton would be affected.