PCTs target small practices for PMS reviews

Some PCTs are enforcing contract reviews when single-handed PMS GPs retire, a law firm has warned.

Dr Vautrey: local agenda
Dr Vautrey: local agenda

Lynne Abbess, partner of specialist medical law firm Hempsons, said PMS contracts belong to the partner whose name appears on them.

If that partner wants to retire and return to work or hand over to a new partner, they must negotiate a name change on the contract with the PCT.

Some PCTs may use the opportunity to disperse the list, or only consent to a name change if certain conditions are met, such as the practice agreeing to move to new premises, Ms Abbess said.

Ms Abbess said this situation arises on a 'daily basis' as PMS GPs come up to retirement, because PCTs are reluctant to perpetuate single-handed practices.

'GPs may have little control of the situation. The only certain way to get around this situation is to look at the alternative of exercising the right to switch to a GMS contract. But this is likely to have onerous financial implications,' she said.

Deputy GPC chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said this activity was 'fairly widespread' across the country.

'It's a sign of how PCTs are using PMS contracts as part of a local agenda without looking at the services they are providing to patients,' he said.

'There has certainly been a greater focus by a number of PCTs on reviewing PMS contract recently, and this is one mechanism of that.'

He added: 'This is why we consistently advise GPs to take on a partner well before retirement, so there is a degree of continuation that could mean this situation is avoided.'

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