A Parliamentary debate is to be held into NHS cuts that family doctors fear could force the closure of 22 East End surgeries.
Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick will tomorrow (4.30pm, Tuesday May 13) force a Government health minister to explain why 12 GP practices in Tower Hamlets, five in Hackney and five in Newham are having their funding slashed.
Some GPs fear they will go bankrupt within months, placing some of the capital’s most deprived communities without access to primary care.
Mr Fitzpatrick, MP for Poplar and Limehouse, said at a meeting of campaigners last week: “Primary care is being starved and the amount of money that is available is reducing. We have a real threat to GP services in Tower Hamlets.”
The crisis has been caused by the withdrawal last month of a financial “buffer” that protected GPs who lost out in previous changes to NHS contracts in 2004. Problems have been exacerbated by a reduction in performance-related payments.
Dr Salma Ahmed, of Jubilee Street practice, which has lost £100,000 in funding, said: “If you erode five practices, it’s like Jenga, it’s like dominos. It will be 10 in a year’s time. It will be 20 in three years’ time.”
At a meeting at Mile End hospital, more than 100 GPs and health campaigners passed a vote of no confidence in the Government and drew up plans for a protest march in July to tie-in with the 70th anniversary of the founding of the NHS.
Campaigners want to mobilise public support in the same way that led to Government plans to downgrade the emergency department at Lewisham hospital being defeated last year.
Retired GP Dr Ron Singer said: “I think we can build a Lewisham-style campaign. I think we can take the Government on. I think we can win.”
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