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Saturday, 20 September 2014

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Coniston GP fears her surgery may be the next victim of cash cuts

A FAMILY doctor has spoken of her fears for her elderly and vulnerable patients, should her practice be forced to close.

Dr Katharina Frey from Coniston Medical Practice is worried hers could be one of 98 surgeries under threat due to changes in the way GPs receive funding for their services.

The government is phasing out the minimum practice income guarantee (MPIG), a funding formula designed to protect smaller surgeries by guaranteeing a minimum level of financial support independent of how many patients each has on its books.

The changes, heavily criticised by the British Medical Association, are due to be rolled out from April.

The BMA claims hundreds of practices will face severe cuts to their funding in addition to 98 identified by NHS England as being at serious risk of being forced to close.

Dr Frey said: “While the government has not confirmed where these practices are or the extent of their financial difficulty, we do know that some are likely to be smaller GP practices, like mine, in rural communities. If these practices were to close it could leave large areas without a nearby GP.”

Coniston Medical Practice provides care for just less than 1,000 patients, and relies on MPIG for around a third of its core funding.

The team is already under considerable financial strain, is unable to afford to employ a practice nurse and has to take the replacement of any senior staff into serious consideration.

When the practice loses its minimum income support, Dr Frey said, the pressure will become considerably worse.

She added: “We are already working at full capacity with declining resources: I just don’t know how we will cope with this additional financial blow.”

“I am becoming increasingly concerned about whether my practice can continue to survive, and most importantly whether I’ll be able to keep offering the care my patients deserve. I want to continue providing the best possible care for my patients, many of whom are elderly, vulnerable and alone.”

Have your say

I was on holiday in Coniston in my touring caravan in 1980. In the middle of the night I had abdominal pain. My husband phoned the local GP, and then took me to his surgery. The GP diagnosed an ectopic pregnancy and sent me to the hospital in Barrow where I had emergency surgery. If there had not been a GP service in Coniston, I would have died. So please keep this service going for the local people and also for the tourests. Thank you. Samantha

Posted by Samantha Ridgway on 25 March 2014 at 09:14

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