New data obtained by GPonline show that commissioners in nine NHS England areas so far have offered practices special terms to transition to GMS ahead of funding cuts aimed at creating equity across contract types.
So far 588 practices have signed up to the deals. A further 29 practices have exercised their contractual right to revert to GMS since 2013 independently of a transition arrangement, bringing the total number switching so far to 617, 20% of the 3,054 total number of PMS practices in 2013.
By last month the total number of PMS practices had fallen by 21% to just 2,421.
GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said the return to GMS and a common funding baseline made sense and would provide stability for practices and simplicity for commissioners.
'Return to GMS will provide stability'
‘The move back from PMS to GMS makes sense for both practices and commissioners. As all practices move to a common baseline funding having one national contract provides both stability for practices and simplicity for the commissioner. It provides a solid foundation on which CCGs can invest additional resource to meet local needs.
'It is, though, essential that every penny of freed up PMS funding is invested completely back into local practices in ways that does not add yet more workload burden, but supports the vitally important routine work of practices.’
But National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) president and former DH clinical lead on implementing PMS Dr James Kingsland, said the move away from the locally commissioned contracts went against the grain of what the service was trying to achieve.
'PMS was a fantastic solution'
‘The sad thing is that most of what is challenging the NHS at the moment and the solutions could have all been delivered through the 1997 [NHS primary care] act’, said Dr Kingsland. ‘PMS was a fantastic solution to under-doctored areas, difficult to reach populations, meeting diverse populations' needs, looking at different skill mixes. A reduction of PMS is completely against the grain of what we are trying to achieve.’
Information collected by GPonline from NHS England subregion teams by freedom of information requests shows the scale of premium funding that commissioners are stripping from PMS practices.
In London £92.9m has been identified to be cut from 659 practices, an average of £140,000 each. In the West Midlands £23.5m has been identified, and £15m in both the South West and West Yorkshire.