Senior Conservative MP slams 'appalling' GP funding cuts

A senior Tory MP has criticised the government and NHS England over plans that could see GP practices in his constituency facing annual funding cuts of £250,000.

Sir Henry Bellingham (Con, North West Norfolk) told patients of the Vida Healthcare group of practices he was ‘quite appalled’ by NHS England proposals to remove funding following a PMS contract review.

Cuts facing the Norfolk practices are part of a national process that will remove millions of pounds from PMS practices' funding, with hundreds forced to move back to the nationally negotiated GMS contract.

The former foreign office minister said in a letter to the practices' patients group that he would do all he could to ‘persuade both NHS England and the minister of the folly of their ways’.

In letters to NHS England chief executive and health minister Lord David Prior, Sir Henry slammed a statement by NHS England’s East region which defended the PMS cuts as redistributing funding across general practice. ‘To say that [the] comments dismayed and angered people would be an understatement,’ the MP wrote.

GP funding

‘Indeed there is absolutely no logic whatsoever in [the] suggestion that it makes sense to take money from a group of GP practices "to reinvest it into GP services in the area".’

The MP demanded to know why the comments had been made and what plans there were for reinvesting the withdrawal PMS funds. 

The national PMS review process has been implemented by NHS England as part of the government’s equitable funding policy to equalise core funding across contracts. Under the policy PMS practices’ so-called ‘premium funding’, identified as above GMS core and not linked to defined enhanced services or KPIs, is being redistributed across general practice within CCG areas.

GPs at the Vida practices have had one appeal against the decision to withdraw the PMS premium funding rejected by NHS England, but have lodged a second appeal with health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

PMS contract review

The practices are looking at which services could be stopped and considering reducing costs through natural wastage of GPs and nurses.

Patient participation group member Dan O'Connor said they had approached lawyers to seek advice on possible legal action. The group is investigating joining up with a patient from Slaithwaite Health Centre in West Yorkshire who is seeking a judicial review into an alleged failure by NHS England to comply with a legal requirement to involve patients in decisions which affect services.-

Ruth Derrett, Locality Director for NHS England (East) said: ‘We can confirm that Vida Healthcare has formally appealed against the results of the PMS review and that the appeal will now be reviewed by the Family Health Services Appeal Unit (FHSAU) who are tasked with the prompt and fair resolution of appeals between NHS England and primary care contractors. As this is part of a legal process it would not be appropriate for us to comment further.’

Earlier this year, GPonline revealed that concerns have been raised over the legality of PMS funding cuts. Patients have been consulted in less than half of PMS reviews that could cut services.

Photo: henrybellingham.com

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