Hundreds of people have been enjoying the August bank holiday weekend at Sheffield’s Oktoberfest on Devonshire Green. The three day festival is into its secoind year and aims to bring people together to have fun and celebrate traditional German food, beer and music. Baillor Jalloh reports for Sheffield Live!
Campaigners gathered on Devonshire Green on Saturday for the Sheffield Trades Union Council ‘Sheffield needs a pay rise campaign’ in support of the city’s low paid workers. The campaign, focussing on shop workers over the christmas period, is calling for the living wage to be raised to £10 an hour. Orgreave justice campaigner, Barbara Jackson, said “Low pay, zero hours contracts and uncertain work goes back to the defeat of the miners in 1985”.
GP surgery’s in Sheffield have said that they may have to close if funding cuts continue to be phased in over the next few years.
Cuts to the Minimum Income Practice Guarantee (MPIG) pose a real threat to the survival of up to five surgery’s in Sheffield.
Sheffield could see up to 13,000 patients being directly affected because of the withdrawal of MPIG funding.
The additional funding supports GP surgeries which serve populations with more complex and demanding health needs. The Government began withdrawing MPIG funding in April 2014 and plans to phase it out totally over the next seven years.
NHS England says 100 GP surgeries across the country are threatened by closure as a result, whilst the British Medical Association has warned that the number of surgeries seriously affected will be far higher.
Some practices under threat could lose more than £100 per patient per year, while others will lose £20 or £30 per patient.
Devonshire Green Medical Centre and the Hanover Medical Centre are two of the affected surgery’s in Sheffield. MPIG funding cuts could be in the region of £140,000 between them.
Staff are concerned that they may have to close. Dr Graham Pettinger, who works at both practices said: “At the moment, NHS England have a poor understanding in my view on the impact this is going to have on practices and the patients in Sheffield and across the country on a whole.” Dr. Pettinger continues “This is an extremely serious threat to our survival – if we are unable to find replacement money then the practice may have to close its door to the patients and the community.”
Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, challenged Health Minister’s on this issue. He said: “Local GPs have expressed serious concerns to me about the consequences of this vital funding being withdrawn. The Health Minister’s answer to my question was shockingly complacent. He’s putting patients at risk and I’ll now be seeking a meeting with Ministers to press this issue further.”
Mr Blomfield added “Our local GP surgeries are the first port of call for most people who are unwell or have health difficulties. No-one wants to see service cutbacks having to be made which is why I’m raising this issue now before the situation gets critical. The Government should be talking to GP surgeries now and rethinking this decision.”
A spokesperson for the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw area team of NHS England, said: “We are committed to making sure patients have access to high quality GP services. The minimum practice income guarantee (MPIG) payment is being phased out to make funding for GP services more fair for everyone.” They continued “This is a national plan. Future funding for GP services will be based on the numbers of patients that a GP practice serves and the health needs of those patients. These changes started in April this year and will happen over a seven year period.”
Dr Graham Pettinger speaks to Sheffield Live! George Torr