West Norfolk’s MPs have been urged to intervene over plans to implement severe funding cuts against six of the borough’s GP surgeries.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt is set to make the final decision on whether the proposed budget reductions will be imposed on Vida Healthcare.
But patients’ groups at the organisation’s six practices have reiterated their threat to take legal action if the decision is not reversed in a letter to borough MPs Sir Henry Bellingham and Elizabeth Truss.
The letter warns: “It really is an intolerable situation and it certainly will not be addressed by making cuts to GP surgeries’ funding.
“We believe that there is a statutory duty on NHS England to consult publicly before cutting vital funding to patient services for 37,000 people. This has not happened.” Health service officials have insisted the changes it plans to make to the group’s contract are necessary to ensure that money is spent where it is most needed.
But Vida managers, who run three surgeries in Lynn, as well as practices in Dersingham, Downham and Hunstanton, say the measures will cost them £550,000 over the next four years.
And the letter, which signed by the chairmen of patient participation groups (PPGs) at four of the six affected practices, accused NHS bosses of “robbing Peter to pay Paul”.
They said: “The funding cuts are likely to have a devastating impact on a service that is already under huge pressure.
“What on earth is the logic in cutting funding from surgeries that are already struggling to cope because of increasing social need, deprivation and numbers and allocating that money instead to other surgeries who are under similar pressures?”
The PPG chairmen have called on the MPs to investigate the issue and back recent calls for an independent commission to investigate what they describe as the “unprecedented and growing crisis in our National Health Service.”
Yesterday, Sir Henry said he and Ms Truss had already voiced their concerns about the situation with government ministers and would be working together in a bid to resolve the crisis.
He praised the work of Vida in the borough and claimed the strategy of cutting some GPs’ budgets in order to increase funding for others “made no sense”.
He added: “It seems they have been punished for their own success and I don’t like that at all.”