GPC fears 'thousands of practices at risk' from PMS cuts

GP leaders fear money cut from PMS contracts will be diverted away from primary care, destabilising thousands of practices.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman: warning over PMS funding
GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman: warning over PMS funding

In a letter to the profession, GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said he was concerned the government was about to renege on a series of commitments over moving to equitable funding of PMS and GMS practices.

Dr Buckman called for an an immediate halt to local PMS reviews, and urgent clarity for all practices about what will happen to their funding over the next eight years.

From April 2014 GMS practices in receipt of MPIG will lose a seventh of their correction factor payments each year for seven years to reduce the wide variation in core funding per weighted patient between practices. Funds saved from the MPIG cuts will be recycled back into global sum payments.

The DH has said NHS England will begin discussions from April 2013 with PMS practices to ‘achieve equitable and fair core funding between GMS and PMS contractors’. The GPC is concerned funds saved in the process will be diverted to fill funding gaps elsewhere in the service.

Dr Buckman warned this would ‘lead to this money being lost to general practice, seriously destabilising thousands of practices’.

He added: ‘The government and NHS England must realise that practices will not be able to make any long-term investment decisions, such as recruiting more medical or nursing staff until they know exactly what will happen to their funding. The longer this uncertainty continues the  bigger impact this will have on our patients’.

The GPC said its willingness to consider funding redistribution was contingent on a series of conditions:

  • Proposals would not reduce existing investment overall for primary medical services.
  • Arrangements would cover GMS and PMS practices equally and redistribution would secure PMS funding for general practice, with local PMS reviews halted and PMS practices' right to revert to GMS contracts retained.
  • Proposals would be fully modelled, down to individual practice level.
  • Proposals would not be agreed until all the data had been analysed, shared with the profession and approved by GPs through an opinion survey or special conference.
  • NHS England's area teams would have conversations with higher-funded practices to establish if extra services were being offered or if there were particular reasons for the higher funding.

Dr Buckman said in his letter none of the conditions had been met, so GPs must ‘assume that they are planning to embark on a series of changes some of which will be unpalatable for some practices’.

A spokesperson from NHS England, said: 'We are committed to working with the profession to ensure a fair and equitable approach. We will want to provide greater clarity for GP practices as early as possible whilst making sure the process is fair and robust.

'We are committed to the principle of equitable funding across PMS and GMS practices. NHS England is undertaking further work designed to work out how to put these principals into practice.'

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