Exclusive: PCTs plan to cut millions from primary care

Details are emerging of PCT plans to cut millions from primary care contracts this year, despite the DoH's insistence that trusts must not 'slash and burn' when looking to make savings.

Documents from PCTs that have finalised financial plans for beyond 2010/2011 reveal trusts are looking to recover millions from PMS and GMS practices.

An SHA source also said that the DoH expects to save £42m from primary care contracts if the DoH's proposals for GP pay are accepted by the Review Body in March.

Trusts have been instructed by health minister Mike O'Brien to use this year's 5.5% growth to invest in efficient, innovative services and reduce hospital costs rather than ‘slash and burn.' 

But across the East Midlands SHA area, PCTs have already calculated that between £34-37m can be saved this year by ‘reducing the cost of primary care contracts'.

‘Benchmarking' appears to be a common theme, with PCTs hoping to reduce spend on primary care contracts to match regional or national averages.

Board papers from NHS South Gloucester reveal an ‘opportunity' to save £2.7m by reducing GMS and PMS spend to match other areas.  

By applying efficiency gains identified by management consultants McKinsey, the trust believes it could save £5.26m from GP practices and community services over the next three years.

Bassetlaw PCT plans to recover £400,000 from just 11 practices over the next three years.

Dr Chris Locke, chief executive of Nottinghamshire LMC, said Bassetlaw and other PCTs in his area ‘didn't have a clue' how they would recover the money and GPs were anxious to find out what it would mean for them.

‘They have no guidance from the centre on how to recover this money - they have been asked to come up with a figure by the SHA before they've had time to think it through. They are all waiting to see if other trusts have come out and said how they will do it.'

PCTs have ‘bottled out' of investing in services that would move services out of hospital and into primary care, he said. ‘Practice-based Commissioning has stalled and there has not been any major shift in resources from secondary care to primary care.'

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