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GPs protest in Downing Street over threats to east London surgeries

GPs protest led by Dr Livingstone (left) outside Tower Hamlets town hall on July 30 GPs protest led by Dr Livingstone (left) outside Tower Hamlets town hall on July 30

Wednesday, August 6, 2014
7:05 AM

Doctors and patients are handing in a petition to Downing Street today to protest at threats to 22 surgeries across east London.

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They are being met at 1.30pm by East End MPs Rushanara Ali and Jim Fitzpatrick to present the petition with 21,000 names to the Prime Minister.

The GPs are demanding top-up funding for deprived areas to be safeguarded instead of being re-calculated on number of years patients are towards the average death-rate—which favours affluent areas with a higher life expectancy.

NHS cash is more urgently needed in east London where life expectancy is 18 years lower on average due to illnesses, campaigners point out.

The NHS has a hit list of 100 surgeries at risk of losing funds—including 22 in Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Newham.

“The new funding formula is weighted towards surgeries with older patients who consult doctors and use more appointments than younger people,” said Dr Gambiz Boomla, who runs Poplar’s Chrisp Street surgery.

“But east London has a younger population where people die earlier from illnesses occurring from the age of 50.

“Deprived populations are less healthy because they’re poorer. Income determines health.”

The change in funding calculated on longevity puts deprived areas like east London at a disadvantage, reducing medical resources where they’re most needed, say campaigners.

Surgeries in east London had been receiving top-up payments for vital specialist services such as diabetes and heart disease which are prevalent in the area.

Now funding is being cut, the surgeries fear they would have to make do with fewer doctors and nurses, with longer queues for appointments.

Dr Anna Livingstone, from the Limehouse Clinic, said: “Inner city cash is being taken away as funding policy changes.

“People die younger in deprived areas where you need a full medical team. But practices in east London are facing cuts.

“I can see surgeries closing because the government wants them privatised, doing all sorts of things to make it difficult for us to continue.”

Dr Livingstone led a delegation to Tower Hamlets council last Wednesday to get backing for their campaign. She is being met at Dowhning Street today by the council’s Labour Opposition leader Racheal Saunders, together with the MPs for Bethnal Green & Bow and Poplar & Limehouse to hand in the petition to David Cameron.

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