A call for the NHS to take immediate steps to protect the viability of GP practices in rural areas has been made by North Yorkshire County Council’s Scrutiny of Health Committee.
The Chairman of the Committee, Councillor Jim Clark, has asked the NHS to set out the way in which it intends to protect rural surgeries at risk of closure because of a massive loss of income.
Councillor Clark writes in a letter to Geoff Day, Head of Primary Care for the NHS North Yorkshire and Humber said:
We have great concern over the long term funding of GP services in North Yorkshire.
If GPs are going to effectively deliver integrated care we must ensure that they are properly funded, particularly in rural areas where the cost of providing local access is so much higher.
Concerns about rural provision were raised earlier this month at a meeting of the Scrutiny of Health Committee attended by Mr Day, where Members considered the implications of changes to the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee system, part of the financial framework which supports GP practices.
One rural GP who also attended the meeting said that the changes could result in his practice losing some £78,000 a year. The Committee points out that there is also a threat to funding through changes to the funding allocation formula for Clinical Commissioning Groups, which are now responsible for controlling the finances of GP practices. The Committee fears that the proposed changes in the formula could mean a reduction in funding in North Yorkshire of more than £20m a year* … on top of the deficit the CCGs inherited from the former North Yorkshire and York Primary Care Trust.
Councillor Clark added:
The way in which health services are funded in North Yorkshire is of critical importance.
The Committee is determined to maintain the pressure on the NHS and on Government to ensure that these vital services are protected, and that they are delivered where and when people need them – particularly people who live in the more remote rural parts of our county.