A health centre is set to lose more than £638,000 of funding, despite the borough already being one of the most financially deprived in the country.
A 21,000-signature petition had been handed to 10 Downing Street over East End GP cuts in August 2014 and the Limehouse practice will be organising its own to protest further cuts.
Partners at the Limehouse practice in Tower Hamlets were told they would lose their Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG) over a period of seven years, which accounts for over 20% of the surgery’s income.
NHS England told the practice they would lose £2.29 per patient, but after an internal investigation, the practice found they would actually make losses of £4.12 per patient in the first year, with a cumulative yearly loss of £3.41.
The surgery pointed out the error and NHS England acknowledged their results were not as accurate. At the end of the seven-year phase out, the surgery will go from receiving £101 per patient, to just £79.
The Limehouse practice has over 10,000 patients. Warwick Young, manger of the practice, is concerned that if they cannot get government support, the overall financial loss would be crippling.
Young said: “The surgery will be unviable within a few months. We won’t even be able to pay the staff.”
He explained that the amount that health centres are funded depends on how large the elderly population is; the more elderly people living in an area, the more funding a surgery will receive. Tower Hamlets has a relatively young population and so it “loses out” on some of the financial support it requires.
An article written on GPOnline, earlier this year, called for ‘deprivation’ to be included as one of the factors that influence how GP surgeries are funded.
Healthy life expectancy for people in Tower Hamlets is lower than the national average with 54 years for men and 55 years for women.
Young told Eastlondonlines that as a result, GPs at the Limehouse Practice are seeing patients twice as often as most London surgeries and working much longer hours. He said: “My GPs are all so dedicated, but they can only put up for so long.”
“Everyone thinks that GPs clock off at six everyday, but mine work 10-12 hours everyday.”
“Their hourly rate is effectively half that of GPs in other areas because they are working such long hours and seeing so many patients. GPs won’t want to work in inner-London surgeries if this continues.”