PMS review could strip millions from GP practices

Millions of pounds could be lost to general practice under a national review of PMS contracts launched last week by NHS England, GPs fear.

Dr Richard Vautrey: PMS cash must not be lost to GPs
Dr Richard Vautrey: PMS cash must not be lost to GPs

Most PMS practices will not face funding cuts this year, NHS England confirmed in a letter to area teams.

The letter says there are no plans to reduce ‘the quantum of PMS funding this year’.

But the review will determine whether money paid to PMS practices above and beyond GMS funding is effectively core pay or enhanced service funding.

The letter says: ‘This review will need to consider how far PMS expenditure (in so far as it exceeds the equivalent expenditure on GMS services) is effectively paying for "core" primary care services and should be treated in the same way as MPIG expenditure.’

But the review will also consider ‘how far it is paying for "enhanced" primary care services’.

If the review determines that a large proportion of extra cash paid to PMS practices is effectively enhanced services funding, it could be cut or opened up to other providers rather than redistributed among GP practices.

GP leaders have warned that up to £200m could be lost to general practice if extra money paid to PMS practices is diverted elsewhere in the NHS or out of the health service.

GP reported earlier this year that PMS reviews were continuing in parts of England.

The letter says some area teams had been considering PMS reviews as a possible source of savings under the quality, improvement, productivity and prevention (QIPP) scheme within 2013/14.

Area teams have been asked not to initiate new PMS reviews, but can do so with the backing of local medical committees, or where PCT reviews were handed to them at an advanced stage.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘It is intended that this process will lead to PMS practice funding being comparable with GMS funding, so that means PMS practices could end up with an MPIG-like equivalent which will, over a seven-year period, be redistributed within general practice.

'We will work closely with NHS England during this process and will want to see that it is done fairly and consistently. When the proportion of NHS funding going in to general practice is already less than 8% it would not be acceptable for GP funding to see any further cuts and we will work to ensure this does not happen.'

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