GPs given ammunition to combat PMS raids

PMS guidance has been drawn up by London LMCs to give GPs ammunition to protect their contracts against ‘value-for-money’ raids by PCTs.

PCTs have been systematic and acquisitive in seeking value for money from PMS contractors since the health secretary Patricia Hewitt issued directions on financial provisions within PMS agreements last year.

Any variation to the core agreement should follow a step-by-step procedure with a clear method for rebasing contracts, LMC guidance on changes to PMS agreements warns.

‘All PCTs with PMS contractors are increasingly looking at value for money especially in relation to growth funds,’ said Dr Tony Stanton, joint chief executive at Londonwide LMCs.

‘No London PCT has yet threatened a contract termination, but “they are looking”’, he said.

Coventry PCT last month withdrew a threat to terminate PMS contracts if contractors failed to agree to revised deals (GP, 16 February).

Dr Stanton said that members were concerned that PCTs may try to impose changes.

‘London-wide LMCs is not prepared to allow its members to be pressurised into accepting changes to their original contracts,’ he added.

The core agreement, growth monies and superannuation are all under threat.

The London-wide guidance is applicable to all practices using the model contract drawn up by Lockharts solicitors. But GPs are warned not to agree to changes to the contract ‘without taking expert legal advice’.

The guidance warns practices to keep good records because ‘the data that the PCO has collected is different to that held in the practice’.

Dr Ian Greaves, a first wave PMS GP from Gnosall in Staffordshire, said that his contract contains no clause allowing for unilateral contract termination.

‘The PCT can discuss whether they are getting value for money. I am spending public money and I am happy to give an account of how I’ve spent it,’ he said.

Dr Adrian Midgley, a PMS doctor from Exeter in Devon, said the value for money visit was a waste of his time.

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