Sheffield GP funding petition goes to Downing Street

Over 2,000 local people have signed a petition calling on the Government to keep essential funding for GP practices who serve patients with higher and more complex health needs.

It calls for a halt to cuts which threaten 100 GPs practices with closure across the country - including two in central Sheffield.

The petition was started in January by staff and patients at the Devonshire Green and Hanover Medical Centres who are one of the 100 affected.

Today a group of doctors, staff and patients will join Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield to hand in the petition at No.10 Downing Street.

Mr Blomfield helped launch the petition and has challenged Ministers on the issue in Parliament on several occasions. Whilst in Westminster the group will also meet with a Government Health Minister and Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham.

The petition was launched to challenge the Government's decision to axe a special funding stream called the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG).

MPIG funding supports GP surgeries, such as Devonshire Green and Hanover Medical Centres and also Sharrow Lane Medical Centre, which serve areas with above-average health needs.

Cutting this funding will mean some GP practices lose as much as £140,000 income. It is estimated that this loss of funding means four or five practices in Sheffield- all in areas of high need - may be forced to close.

"Since we started the petition in January the response from our patients and members of the public has been great. There's a terrific strength of feeling about this issue.

"We've been pleased to work with our local MP Paul Blomfield to ensure that our situation is raised in Parliament. Surgeries like ours face a real crisis due to MPIG funding being withdrawn and we'll continue the fight to protect our GP surgeries and our patients.

"Our message to the Government is simple -halt the cuts and provide fair funding for our GPs practices."

– Dr Graham Pettinger, Devonshire Green Medical Centre

"Local GP surgeries like Hanover and Devonshire Green are a vital front line for the NHS.

"It's outrageous that those serving the most vulnerable patients are seeing their funds cut. Ministers need to urgently listen to the concerns of local GPs and the thousands of people who have signed the petition before it's too late.

"The prospect of GP surgeries in my constituency going bankrupt and closing is deeply concerning.

"I've raised these concerns with Ministers in Parliament and I'll keep pressing the case until they change their policy. "Labour's Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham has pledged to stop this funding being withdrawn, if we win May's election, and to review the decision before any practice closes, but we're handing in the petition at Downing St because we need to put pressure on the Government now."

– Paul Blomfield MP