Disabled patient takes Health Secretary and the NHS to court

The most disadvantaged will lose local doctors as the BMA names 98 practices at risk due to government funding changes

HEALTH CORRESPONDENT

Jeremy Hunt is facing an unprecedented High Court challenge over the potential closure of dozens of GP surgeries in inner-city areas, as the Government comes under increasing criticism for failing to bring down GP waiting times.

The lawsuit, brought by a disabled Londoner whose surgery has warned patients it could close by April next year because of cuts to its government funding, claims that the NHS in England and the Health Secretary have acted unlawfully, by failing to take into account the impact of potential practice closures on deprived areas and on patients with disabilities.

Changes to the way GP surgeries are funded have threatened up to a hundred practices with closure, potentially affecting 700,000 patients. The changes, which will see a funding stream called the minimum practice income guarantee (MPIG) scrapped, and more funding going to areas with older populations, will disproportionately affect surgeries in inner-city areas with deprived patient groups, opponents say.

The Department of Health says that millions of pounds of funding will be reallocated more fairly across the country.

The Jubilee Street Practice, in the east London borough of Tower Hamlets, had to warn patients at the end of last month that it might have to close next year because NHS England had not yet delivered on a promise of financial support to save the surgery and others like it from the impact of losing MPIG funding, which will be phased out over the next seven years.

The practice told patients that "funding is now being transferred to other GP practices which, by and large, serve more prosperous patients and communities".

Danny Currie Danny Currie Now a patient at Jubilee Street, 35-year-old wheelchair-user Danny Currie, who has cerebral palsy, schizoaffective disorder, and epilepsy, has launched a lawsuit against NHS England and the Secretary of State for Health. He told The Independent on Sunday that the closure of the practice, which has catered for his complex health needs for 30 years, would severely affect the quality of care he would receive.

"People who might visit their GP on an infrequent basis may not realise the lifeline it is to those of us with more complex medical needs who need to visit more regularly and rely on seeing a GP who understands our needs and will accept us on to their lists," he said. "The shutting of the Jubilee practice would be a body blow for me and for the very many people who use the surgery.

"I just don't know where I could go if it closes and how far I'd have to travel, as another five GP practices in Tower Hamlets are at risk if these funding cuts continue."

Richard Stein, a partner at the Leigh Day law firm, which is representing Mr Currie, said that, in bringing in the GP-funding reforms, the Government and NHS England had not paid due regard to commitments to reduce inequalities made in the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and the NHS Act 2006.

"They are phasing out MPIG without any arrangement... [for] the particular issues around deprivation and health inequalities," he said. "They are saying they will put money back into general GP capitation payments, which effectively means they are moving money from areas of deprivation to more healthy patients …. The effect of not having proper GP services for someone in Danny's circumstances is that he ends up needing more hospital care, and that costs the NHS much more. It's very shortsighted."

The Jubilee Street Practice, which has a list of 11,000 patients, has provided medical care in east London for 75 years, has achieved all government targets and has a 94 per cent patient-satisfaction rate.

It is one of 98 practices identified by NHS England as being at risk of closure because of changes to GP funding. The British Medical Association (BMA) believe the number could be even higher, with student medical practices and surgeries serving remote rural areas with small patient lists also at particular risk.

GPs and patients delivered a petition to No 10 last week to protest against the threatened closures.

The dispute comes amid increasing concern that GP surgeries are struggling to cope with ever-growing patient demand. The BMA has warned that two-week waits for appointments have become commonplace at many practices, particularly at inner city surgeries with long patient lists. The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has told the Government that GPs need a greater slice of the total £110bn NHS budget. At the moment, they are receiving a record low of 8.39 per cent of the NHS budget, despite carrying out 90 per cent of patient contacts, the RCGP claims.

The Department of Health said that it could not comment on Mr Currie's legal action. Formal letters before claim have been sent to Mr Hunt and to NHS England.

NHS England did not respond to a request for comment.

News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people
News
people
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    RE/Humanities, Sittingbourne School

    Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We urgently seek an experienced ...

    SEN Teacher

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Southampton: Randstad Education are recruiting ...

    Maths Teacher, full time supply role, Medway Academy

    Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Our client school in Chatham, a ...

    Geography Teacher, Dover School, full time role

    Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Randstad Education is urgently s...

    Day In a Page

    Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

    Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

    A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
    An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

    An app for the amorous

    Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

    Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
    She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

    She's having a laugh

    Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

    Let there be light

    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
    Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

    Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

    Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
    Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

    A look to the future

    It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
    The 10 best bedspreads

    The 10 best bedspreads

    Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
    Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

    Arsenal vs Galatasaray

    Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
    Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?