Esk Valley GP surgeries face funding cuts

Staff and patients of Egton surgery gather outside in protest to the proposed cuts''w132512k
Staff and patients of Egton surgery gather outside in protest to the proposed cuts''w132512k

Doctors this week warned devastating cuts in funding for their surgeries will be ‘disastrous’ for patients and staff.

The cash from central government is used to pay for staff and services.

The district’s GPs fear that among the issues the funding changes could lead to are:

l loss of doctors and other staff

l changes to services

l reduction in opening times

l possible closure of some surgeries in the future

The cuts will take place from next spring and will see the GP practices lose their Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG) funding which will be phased out over the next seven years.

Although the money will be redistributed nationally, local surgeries may only recoup several thousand pounds.

For Egton surgery, which has 2,500 patients, it will lose 25 to 30 % of its overall income which equates to £70,000. The average amount of MPIG funding for surgeries nationally is £12,000.

On Tuesday, shocked patients were told of the news at a packed public meeting in Egton village hall.

Partner and GP at Egton surgery, Julian Fester said for smaller rural practices it will be impossible to make the shortfall up.

“Rural practices are being hit very hard. The services we provide are paid for by that money. It’s going to have massive implications for the services on the North York Moors.

“Our funding is so much more than the average because of our rurality. I’m hoping we can raise awareness. Unless we do something we probably could not sustain two doctors in the surgery unless something drastic happens.”

For Danby which has 2,300 patients, the they will lose £61,000 a year- 20% of its overall income.

he surgery is holding a public meeting for its patients on July 2 in Castleton village hall at 7pm.

Doctor Marcus van Dam from Danby surgery said they are already receiving the maximum income they can.

“It’s a geographical problem. I don’t think the government has realised that some surgeries will be pushed to the brink of collapse,” he said.

“It’s such a big part of our cash flow. We will never have more than 2,300 patients. Where will the patients come from? People will feel their care has changed. “The net effect will be there will be a loss of services.”

Doctor Rory Newman from Sleights and Sandsend Medical Practice said they will lose £40,000 out of their £600,000 income which will also affect their 5,000 patients.

This comes on the back of their income falling generally over the past few years.

He said: “It is not quite such a big problem for us, it’s not going to bite quite so quickly but in two to three years it’s really going to start making a big difference. “We will lose a significant amount.”

Jackie Chilcott, practice manager for Staithes surgery added: “There will be a drop in income levels that will have an impact on how our practice operates.”

The Whitby Group Practice and its branch surgery in Robin Hood’s Bay will not be affected by the phasing out of the funding because they are in a different funding formula.

Patients have also voiced their fury over the cuts.

Nicky Everitt from Egton said: “It seems that the government are wanting more for less. Things can’t keep going on like this otherwise we’ll reach breaking point soon.”

Helen Henderson, Egton Bridge added: “It’s already a village with few conveniences and in a way the surgery brings everyone together.

“It’s a focal point of the village and we’ll lose community spirit without it.”

Patient Tom Stanforth from Egton is battling neck cancer and said the surgery has been his lifeline.

“If it hadn’t been for the surgery I wouldn’t be here now. They kept me going, they were brilliant.

“I think it is digusting what is happening.”

If you are concerned about the impact of the funding changes please complete the petition for in theWhitby Gazette’s edition on 21 June.