PMS practices given contract ultimatum

The primary healthcare of 500,000 Suffolk residents would be put out to tender if negotiations over new PMS contracts in Suffolk fail, according to Suffolk LMC.

The move would be a last resort if there was no resolution of the dispute involving 48 PMS practices by the end of the extended deadline for negotiations, 31 March 2008.

The ongoing stand-off between Suffolk’s PCT and LMC is over target payments for referrals, described by the GPC as ‘immoral’.

Suffolk LMC member Dr Phillip Evans said: ‘We have been issued with termination of contract notices, so if we don’t get a resolution then the PCT would then be responsible for providing healthcare somehow.

‘Theoretically it was always the position. I’m sure neither we nor the PCT expect it to come to this.

‘There is a tradition of very high quality general practice in this area. There would be a lot of concern and resistance from the public. It would be completely foolish.’

Suffolk LMC chairman Dr Bill Robinson said the last resort was unlikely. ‘We are meeting with the chairman of the PCT to discuss the target payments. They have assured us they support our stance and don’t want any of this to happen.’

A Suffolk PCT spokeswoman said Suffolk GPs could ultimately go back to the GMS contract and that talk of tendering was ‘hypothesising’.

‘The PCT is clear that it is not putting contracts out to tender.’

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman said: ‘Bullying practices is not the way to get them to improve and threatening to shut down practices holding some 500,000 patients is ridiculous. Obviously this is bad news for patients and it doesn’t make for good relations between the PCT and GPs.‘There is certainly the feeling that other PCTs will be watching Suffolk carefully to see what happens with this.’

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