PMS GPs are given six months’ notice

All 46 PMS practices in Suffolk have this week received notice from their PCT terminating their current contracts.

They are being given the choice of negotiating a new PMS contract with Suffolk LMC or a return to GMS. New contracts would begin on 1 October.

The Suffolk PCT letter to GPs, which was sent on Monday, said that the PCT hoped that the principles of the new PMS contract or GMS return would be ‘available for practices to examine on an individual basis’ by 1 May.

Practices are warned in the letter that if they want to return to GMS, they must give the PCT notice in writing by 30 June.

Head of performance at Suffolk PCT Melanie Craig said it was at the forefront of re-examining PMS contracts.

‘The East of England SHA is fully behind us in ensuring that we get the best value from our GP contracts,’ she said. ‘We will maintain our current level of investment in general practice in Suffolk and will be taking this opportunity to achieve better value for money, to improve services for patients and to allocate money to where it is needed most.

‘The PMS contract is not as clear as it should be; we intend to make GPs more accountable with a new contract that will be fair.’

Suffolk LMC chief executive Bill Robinson said negotiations were under way, but he warned that practices would not know until May how they would be affected financially.

A return to GMS would be cushioned by a local MPIG.

Mr Robinson could not rule out practices being worse off from October but said that the LMC would be negotiating on their behalf and change would be phased in over three years.

Renegotiation has been on the cards for the 40 per cent of GPs in England on PMS contracts for a year. The DoH had told PCTs to consider axing contracts where they were not comparable in cost to GMS (GP, 17 March 2006).

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