PMS income slashed by a third

PMS practices in Suffolk face losing up to a third of their core income under the PCT’s new PMS contract.

There are winners and losers but 21 of the 46 PMS practices in Suffolk are to have their income slashed.

The practices will lose varying amounts ranging from 1.2 per cent to 32.7 per cent under Suffolk PCT’s formula for redistributing funding.

GP revealed that the 46 practices had been given six months’ notice in March. The new contracts could start in October.

The PCT used the GMS global sum formula to weight individual practice lists. Funding was added for local enhanced services including minor surgery and minor injuries.

Red Lodge PMS GP Dr George Hopkinson said he felt ‘shell-shocked’ when his practice received notification that it would lose 12.3 per cent of its funding.

‘I feel like I’m being bullied by the state,’ he said.

Dr Hopkinson said the that PCT had used a ‘divide and rule’ tactic by pitching practices that stood to gain against those facing a loss. 

‘The ill will that will go with this is huge. It makes you feel like packing your bags and going home,’ he said.

The reduced funding is to be phased in over three years.

Bill Robinson, chief executive of Suffolk LMC, said that the changes meant that some parts of the county were ‘three years away from catastrophe’.

He also said that most practices had used PMS budgets to fund additional nursing staff and salaried GPs.

If this money disappeared, it would affect local healthcare, he said: ‘If practices have been using growth money to fund those people and it dries up then you have a problem. That problem is not going to hit them really hard for a while but it could be three years away from catastrophe.’

Mr Robinson added that in areas where all practices were PMS, the impact ‘could destabilise primary care’.

PMS GP Dr Neville Selby said this was likely to happen in Haverhill where he practised.

All three practices are PMS and stand to lose the funding equivalent of four full-time GPs.

His practice alone will lose £100,000, which is a 12 per cent drop in income.

Yet the practice had been encouraged by the previous PCT regime to go PMS, he said.

But head of performance at Suffolk PCT Melanie Craig insisted the new PMS contracts would be a fairer payments system for the county.

‘The idea behind the original PMS contracts was that we would invest more in GP services so that more people could avoid having to go into hospital, but the contracts were not rigorous enough to make a real difference,’ she said.

‘If we can agree the proposed new contracts there is a much stronger incentive for GPs to do more for their patients and get better value for money from hospitals and other NHS services.’

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