Health Secretary to meet Sheffield MP over GP funding cuts

Staff at Page Hall Medical Centre whos jobs are under threat due to funding cuts
Staff at Page Hall Medical Centre whos jobs are under threat due to funding cuts

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is set to meet with a Sheffield MP over funding cuts to GP services in the city.

Some 62 out of 87 GP practices across the city face funding cuts thanks to a redistribution of NHS England money and it was feared some surgeries could face closure as a result.

Paul Blomfield, Labour MP for Sheffield Central, challenged Prime Minister David Cameron to intervene.

He told Mr Cameron in the House of Commons: “GP practices across Sheffield serving patients with complex and more costly health needs are threatened by the withdrawal of the minimum practice income guarantee and the personal medical services premium.

“Will the Prime Minister ask NHS England to review the impact of these decisions to ensure no practice closes, and will he ask health ministers to meet me and other Sheffield members to consider what can be done to support effective practices?”

Mr Cameron said he was ‘sure’ the Health Secretary would ‘listen carefully’ and see if they could speak to Mr Blomfield.

However, he added: “What is happening in his city is the number of GPs is actually increasing.

“This year, NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group is getting £708 million, which is an almost 2 per cent increase at a time of almost zero inflation. What we need to do is get the negotiations on this contract right.

“That does mean making some changes over time, but the contract has got to deliver the quality patients deserve.”

Mr Blomfield said afterward: “It’s not right some local surgeries are threatened by the withdrawal of these two special pots of money designed to help those with extra costs.

“The Government wants to equalise funds without regard to need.”

At a meeting on Thursday, Sheffield CCG passed amended proposals which it says will reduce the impact of the redistribution.

GPs and health experts voted to use the £2.8 million being removed from some practices to fund ‘non-core services’ at all practices city wide – which is what was initially proposed. They also passed a proposal for a ‘special measures’ fund to be created, for GP practices which could demonstrate specific need for more cash.

Dr Trish Evans, a GP at Page Hall Medical Centre, said they could now be ‘cautiously optimistic.’

She said: “It’s absolutely a better offer than two weeks ago.”