GP fears over PMS funding

GP leaders warned the PMS contract review was a 'shambles' after it emerged that NHS England's London region could divert up to £90m stripped from practices to fund a new series of quality targets.

Dr Drage: Demand higher in capital
Dr Drage: Demand higher in capital

The first details of how money cut from practices in the national PMS review could be used emerged after a senior NHS England London official told GP the region would spend money cut from practices to fund its GP quality standards programme, led by former RCGP chairwoman Professor Clare Gerada.

Under the PMS review, part of NHS England’s move to equitable funding across contracts, local area teams have two years to decide whether to ‘redeploy’ £450m of PMS practice funding identified as ‘premium’ income they would not receive through the GMS contract.

Just over £90m of this premium funding goes to London practices, official data show.

Deputy medical director of NHS England London, Dr Mark Spencer, welcomed the decision to hand control of premium funds to area teams. He told GP the agreement to spend the money locally meant NHS London could use it for its programme setting standards for GPs on access, proactive care and care co-ordination, due to be published in spring.

But GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said the ‘vital resource’ should be invested to support core GP services ‘delivered by all practices’.

‘The PMS review is turning into a shambles,’ he said, ‘with different arrangements in different areas and potentially area teams arguing between themselves.’

Londonwide LMCs chief executive Dr Michelle Drage said the money would be better spent helping practices manage additional demands faced in the capital.

Londonwide had not been told about NHS England London’s plans for the funding, Dr Drage said, and had yet to see any detail of the GP standards.

NHS England London has been working with GPs and patients to develop proposals describing the service it believes practices should provide. This ‘service offer’ will focus on access, proactive care and care co-ordination. London GPs will work towards the standards in the next five years, leading to a ‘benchmark’ for the quality patients should expect.

Dr Spencer said reinvesting PMS premium cash could help London implement its quality standards.

However, a spokeswoman for NHS England London said many of the standards’ costs would be met through ‘greater efficiency and integrated working’. She added: ‘Investments will be needed for others. The extent of this funding and where it will come from has not been decided.’

A spokeswoman for NHS England said it aimed to ‘enable area teams to continue to be able to use PMS funding to support local innovation and quality improvement’.

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