Esk Valley residents and GPs spelt out loud and clear at a public meeting on Tuesday that they were united in fighting cuts to funding that threaten their doctors’ surgeries.
Danby surgery had invited its patients to hear how changes in Government funding mean that Danby will lose £61,000 of Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG) which will be phased out from next April.
The cash from central government is to ensure that the funding of a practice does not fall to an ‘unsustainable’ level. The changes will also hit Egton Surgery hard and to a lesser extent Staithes, Sleights and Sandsend surgeries.
Doctor Marcus van Dam from Danby surgery told a packed meeting in the village hall that he has no plans to close the surgery but things will be very different once the cuts begin to bite.
“For a small practice like ours this would force us to take some very awkward decisions about the number of appointments and the services we can offer, and ultimately how many staff and doctors we will be able to employ in the long run,” he said.
He added they are also facing other funding changes as until now, an adjustment in funding was made for rurality and for older people, women and children.
This means a further reduction in funding for the Esk Valley in addition to the loss suffered through the MPIG being withdrawn.
“It will also reduce the budget we have for referring people to hospital or for prescribing medication,” Dr van Dam warned.
“This is not where it ends, there are several other little changes that all seem to disadvantage small practices.
“The government has a vision that a practice is 6,000 patients and that’s what their getting paid for, and the further below this target, the less is the value of their work.
“Our immediate thought was that we will have to do our bit, take a cut and work a bit harder.
“We are a good team at Danby surgery and if we set our mind to it, we can try working a bit smarter and that can even be positive in many ways.
“The problem however is the indiscriminate application of several changes at the same time that all seem to go against us and add up to cuts of such a size, that we will not be able to absorb with goodwill and a bit of extra and smarter working alone.
“It will have to mean there will be fewer appointments and less time for visits, less chance to be seen on the day, to do things that may have avoided a referral or a trip to A&E.
“It will also mean ultimately that the countryside will not be an attractive place for young doctors to settle and take over from us one day.”
During the meeting residents suggested getting national press and TV involved in the campaign to raise awareness.
An online Save Our Surgeries petition started locally now has almost 600 signatures, MP Robert Goodwill has received 300 letters of opposition and we have been sent dozens of petition forms printed in our paper over the past two weeks.
Dr van Dam added he is hoping someone within the top ranks of the NHS will realise surgeries like Danby and Egton are exceptional cases.
In drawing the meeting to a close,Mrs Lloyd urged patients to write to head of NHS England Geoff Day and Mr Goodwill too as well as signing the petitions adding: “All I can say is let the battle begin.”
To sign the peition to Save Our Surgeries click on the link here http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-our-surgeries