Hung parliament may 'protect contracts'

Both Labour and the Conservatives are keen to unify PMS and GMS contracts, but a hung parliament could prevent radical changes this year, a leading GP has said.

Dr Jenner: policies converging
Dr Jenner: policies converging

Dr David Jenner, NHS Alliance contract lead, said that both Conservative and Labour health policy is moving towards merging the PMS and GMS contracts.

'I am certain that the Tories are going to do that,' he said. 'With Labour, you can see the process happening with the instructions to vary and cut back PMS contracts.

'My understanding of the policy direction is that the difference between GMS and PMS is no longer justifiable.'

LMC representatives have carried conference motions backing unifying the contracts.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said it would be preferable to have one contract, but added: 'It depends on how they were unified, so that everyone is happy with it.'

But Dr Jenner said that in a hung parliament, major reform to GP contracts could stall if parties were to disagree on key points.

'There is consensus among the parties for the need for reform in certain areas - practice boundaries, opening hours, and the urgent care number.

'But major contractual negotiations will be very difficult without a clear consensus,' he said.

'A hung parliament will produce less radical options. Proposing something that will close small practices, or change hospital services, will be much less likely if politicians have to go to the public again in less than a year.'

Dr Buckman said he 'had not even begun' to think about how contract negotiations might be affected by a hung parliament.

A spokesman for the Conservatives said that the party would not decide on details of GP contracts until after the election.

The DoH said changes to PMS contracts will continue to be a matter for local discussion.

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