Fight to save GP surgeries goes on—even as Stepney’s Jubilee St practice gets reprieve

GPs protesting in Whitehall over 22 surgeries facing closure across East London

GPs protesting in Whitehall over 22 surgeries facing closure across East London - Credit: SOS campaign

A major surgery facing closure in London’s deprived East End has been given an 11th hour reprieve to keep open for at least two years.

But GPs fear Stepney’s Jubilee Street practice—at the centre of a campaign to save 22 surgeries across east London—is still under threat.

The surgery has been “forced to accept inadequate NHS funding offer” to avoid closure.

“It’s difficult to describe our relief at not having to close,” Jubilee’s practice manager Virginia Patania said.

“But we’re aware that not all practices are in our position—so we remain committed to support the campaign for fairer GP funding and acknowledgement of deprivation.”

Doctors from all over Tower Hamlets and neighbouring Hackney and Newham are to continue their ‘Save Our Surgeries’ campaign to stop practices closing.

“Our closure would only be delayed by two years if this campaign isn’t successful,” Ms Patania added. “So we are continuing to campaign as strongly as ever.”

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GPs who have demonstrated in Whitehall outside the Department of Health have pledged to continue the fight to stop funding criteria being switched to ageing populations which they say favours affluent areas where life expectancy is 18 per cent longer than deprived areas like east London where rates of illness and disease are higher.

Only 15 of the 98 “most at risk” practices in the country have been reprieved, including Jubilee Street out of the 22 in east London, while hundreds of others are also at risk.

Campaigner Dr Ron Singer said: “A review of GP funding is planned next year, so it makes no sense allowing practices to fold meanwhile.”

GPs handed a petition to 10 Downing Street in July with 21,000 names calling for any changes in funding to be put on hold, pending the review due to start next March, with any new formula to take deprivation and poverty into account. They also lobbied Tower Hamlets council to back their fight.