PMS GPs forced to switch to GMS

GPs could take legal action against a Midlands PCT after it threatened to terminate all PMS contracts unless practices agree revised or revalued deals.

In a letter to all PMS GPs last month, Coventry PCT said practices that were unable to agree changes would be switched to GMS contracts with no MPIG.

A total of 31 out of 63 practices in the PCT are PMS.

Practices fear they will be forced to cut services. More than 90 per cent of existing GMS practices rely on MPIG top-

ups to ensure that they do not receive less core funding under the new contract than they did under the old Red Book.

Last month GP reported that all PMS GPs in Suffolk were set to have their contracts renegotiated and the DoH has told PCTs to consider axing PMS contracts where they were not comparable in cost to GMS (GP, 17 March 2006).

Coventry PCT wrote to PMS GPs last month to give ‘six months notice from 22 January 2007 to cease your PMS contract’.

PMS contracts in Coventry were altered in 2004 to include a clause stipulating that they can be terminated ‘six months after notice is given to the other party’. But GPs believe they were misled into agreeing to this.

At the time, the PCT said it had been ordered to make the change by the health secretary, and threatened to unilaterally insert the clause in 14 days if GPs did not agree.

Coventry GP Dr Robin Lal-Sarin said: ‘We were given to believe that the clause would only be used if there was a rogue practice and something needed to be done.’

Coventry PCT said it wanted to revise PMS contracts to achieve ‘greater equity between GMS and PMS practices’.

Dr Lal-Sarin said GPs feared the PCT would cut growth funding paid to PMS practices, forcing them to cut patient services which would cost the PCT more in the long run.

National Association of Primary Care chairman Dr James Kingsland said he was not aware of any DoH order to insert a six-month notice clause and criticised the PCT’s handling of the situation. He said: ‘The PCT’s letter should be entitled “How to disengage general practice in one easy step”.’

Coventry PCT joint chief executive Mike Atwood said the aim of reviewing contracts was not necessarily to cut funding.

A spokesman for Coventry PCT denied it had misled GPs into altering contracts.

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