Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans has set up a meeting with the Health Secretary to help the fight to sustain the future of Slaidburn’s health centre.
The Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons has arranged to meet Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health, to discuss the proposals of a phased withdrawal of the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee over seven years from 2014.
The meeting was due to take place in the House of Commons as the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times went to press yesterday (Wednesday).
Mr Evans said: “I am delighted that the Secretary of State has agreed to meet with me to discuss this incredibly important matter.
“Slaidburn Country Practice is under threat and its closure would adversely affect a great number of my constituents who rely on the services that it provides.
“I look forward to putting across the strength of feeling in support of the practice and the positive reasons why practices such as the one in Slaidburn, which serve a large rural geographic area but with less patients, must be considered as specialist centres.
“Rurality is an issue that should not be ignored. Our communities have seen schools close and we do not want to see our doctors’ surgeries go the same way.”
The MPIG makes up part of the payments received by some GP practices for providing NHS services. It was originally designed to ensure that no practice would lose money when the 2004 GP contract was drawn up. The major beneficiaries of this were small rural practices whose location often meant that they could not raise the patient list sizes that the contract was designed for. This payment has been in place ever since.
The campaign to save the practice has been gathering strength ever since the news was revealed and a public meeting staged at Newton Village Hall was attended by more than 300 patients.
Dr Karen Massey, of the Slaidburn Country Practice, has warned that the withdrawal of the MPIG, which is currently equivalent to almost the entire profits of the practice, could inevitably lead to its closure in the next couple of years.
A paper petition is available in local shops and businesses as well as at the health centre to sign. Alternatively you can sign it at: http:// epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions /51875