GPs 'face months of uncertainty' over PMS overhaul

General practice may remain in the dark over the extent of PMS funding cuts until after the start of the 2014/15 financial year, GP leaders fear.

Dr Dean Marshall: PMS concerns
Dr Dean Marshall: PMS concerns

NHS England has given its area teams a six-week deadline to compile data for a PMS contract funding review that GPs fear could strip millions of pounds from the profession.

But despite the ‘challenging timetable’ for pulling together PMS data, GP leaders are not convinced reviews of PMS deals will be complete by the start of 2014/15.

The GPC has also condemned NHS England’s failure to award PMS practices funding to cover employers superannuation for locum GPs, although GMS practices are receiving around £1,500 a year on average to cover this cost.

The longer practices remain in the dark about funding changes, the more likely it seems that money will be diverted elsewhere in the NHS, senior GPs say.

GP leaders have predicted that up to £200m could be lost to the profession under plans to equalise practice funding across PMS and GMS contracts.

The GPC is adamant that PMS funding should be redistributed within general practice.

But the decision on how much money could be removed from general practice hinges on NHS England’s assessment of PMS practices’ baseline funding.

Payments for core services are likely to be redistributed among practices, but anything deemed effectively equivalent to an enhanced services payment could be withdrawn.

GPC negotiator Dr Dean Marshall said there was ‘absolutely no reason’ why funding for locum superannuation could not be resolved immediately.

Fellow negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul added: ‘PCTs paid locum superannuation for PMS practices in the same way as for GMS – there was no differentiation.

‘We find it inexplicable that the government has not been able to resource PMS on equivalent terms to GMS. PMS practices to date are paying locum superannuation in full without the recompense that is going to GMS.’

Dr Marshall said the long wait for clarity over PMS funding had left GPs worried. 'I would not be surprised if it is still no clearer by the start of 2014/15,' he said.

‘Our concern is that there may be other reasons for taking so long to get started doing this work – are they looking to defund practices?’

Dr Nagpaul said the BMA was concerned about the capacity of area teams to undertake PMS reviews following the NHS reorganisation.

An NHS England spokeswoman said: ‘NHS England is undertaking a  programme of work over the next few months to ensure that we are in a position to make decisions about applying the principles of equitable funding to PMS contracts and ensuring they continue to deliver best value for 2014/15 and beyond.’

She said area teams were receiving support from NHS Employers to gather information on PMS funding over the next six weeks.

The spokeswoman added: ‘NHS England is working to identify historic expenditure on locum superannuation costs for PMS practices as part of the PMS data collection exercise so that we can decide how to handle this funding.’

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