GP closures: hundreds protest in Whitechapel over funding cuts
PUBLISHED: 10:24 09 July 2014 | UPDATED: 10:24 09 July 2014
Protestors marched through Tower Hamlets on Saturday over changes to NHS funding which could see five GP surgeries in the borough forced to close.
A demonstration of hundreds was held in Altab Ali Park in Whitechapel on June 5 against the measures, which will affect 22 schools in east London and around 100 across the country.
The demo was attended by Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali, Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman, and Labour MP Diane Abbott from nearby Hackney, where surgeries are also at risk.
One NHS surgery effected, the Jubilee Street Practice in Commercial Road, which serves 11,000 patients, is facing closure within a year due to the government’s phasing out of the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee.
Dr Naomi Beer, who has taken a 40 per cent pay cut to save money, said: “The government says its to ‘equalise’ practices, but how come it’s hitting the most deprived practices more than anyone?”
Mayor Rahman said: “The NHS is a national treasure of our country and it needs to be protected so our future generations continue to benefit from world class health care.”
He said the funding chances would “disproportionately impact on our residents’ healthcare and put lives at risk”.
Cllr Asma Begum, the Labour group’s health sopkeswoman, said: “This weekend’s rally showed the strength of people’s passion for the NHS.
“The Government’s attempts to close five of our local GP practices, in one of the country’s most deprived areas, is a disgrace and shows how unfit the Conservatives are to run the NHS.”
A Department of Health spokesman said: “Patients should have access to high quality GP services, no matter where they live.
“The system needs to be fair so GP practices are paid fairly according to the number of patients and the services they deliver.
“The NHS will be supporting the most affected practices to adjust as these payments are gradually phased out over seven years, and the money will be reinvested in general practice.”