Patients in deprived communities could lose out in GP funding review

PMQ 8 July 2015A Bristol MP says healthcare managers should reconsider plans that would reduce funding to GP surgeries, hitting patients in some of the poorest parts of the city.

Karin Smyth fears the potential impact of the Personal Medical Services (PMS) Review, undertaken by NHS England, and looking at the way funding will be allocated to surgeries from next spring, could devastate front-line healthcare provision in communities including Hartcliffe, Filwood and Whitchurch Park.

The review has concluded that widely-recognised measures of deprivation in communities should no longer be treated as significant factors influencing funding and so is set to remove some £2 million from funding allocated to south Bristol over a five-year period from April 2016 and redistribute it. Decisions about where and how to ‘redistribute’ the £2 million will be made this month by the Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

The Labour MP said: “Six surgeries in some of the most deprived areas of south Bristol have contacted me in recent weeks because they are worried about the impact on patients if they lose money on this scale.

“Money that has in the past been allocated on the basis of deprivation will be removed under these plans.

““Local, accessible GP surgeries that deliver high quality health care form a key part of any community, but patients living in some of our city’s poorest areas would find it harder than ever to register with a GP or to get an appointment to see one.

“While others elsewhere may gain from this redistribution, it is not right to rob Peter to pay Paul.”

“There is still time for the CCG to act wisely. With a decision due this month on the way the £2 million will be used, they can ‘redistribute’ it straight back to these areas that would otherwise lose out. This would protect these surgeries from the loss of funding that they’ve previously received because of high deprivation levels in communities they serve.”

Karin Smyth has been lobbying NHS England and the Bristol CCG on the issue in recent weeks.

Figures released last month by the Department for Communities and Local Government showed the greatest levels of deprivation in the city are in areas including Whitchurch Park, Hartcliffe and Filwood.