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Dear Minister, PMS worries us ­ Dear Doctor, PMS is here to stay

A clear commitment to PMS practices is made by Health Minister John Hutton, and I would be grateful if you would publish these letters to help the huge numbers of PMS GPs who are being asked to vote to understand the implications.

Dr Ed Southall

Paignton

Devon

Rt Hon Alan Milburn

Secretary of State for Health

March 17, 2003

Dear Mr Milburn

My partners and I have recently attended the BMA roadshow set up to explain the new contract. We are a second-wave PMS practice and find ourselves in a difficult position.

It is expected that we will vote on the new contract but the BMA tells us you have refused our representative body negotiating rights. We are told by the BMA that we will receive enhanced seniority payments and the right to opt out of out-of-hours but that the Department of Health is 'undecided' as to whether we will receive quality payments.

Can it be right that this is the case? Will 30 per cent of the population of the UK be denied the benefits of this scheme for promoting best medical care?

We were excited as a practice at the prospect of employing more staff and setting up protocols to deliver a higher level of care in such important areas as CHD, diabetes, stroke, epilepsy and asthma/COPD and are dismayed to hear we may be denied the support that GMS practices would receive.

The BMA tell us the £1.3 billion funding for quality is only for GMS practices. Surely this cannot be correct.

Dr Ed Southall

Dr Jo Roberts

Dr Lorraine Foreman

Dr Deb Avery

Dr Giles Hammersley

Dr Nicki Spicer

Dr Trevor Avis

May 2, 2003

Dear Dr Southall

I understand your uncertainties and would like to emphasise that we have supported PMS over recent months. However, at a time when the ballot is pending I do not feel it would be appropriate to comment on individual details. We are of course considering the nature of PMS in relation to the GMS contract.

On one point of fact, I would point out the £1.3 billion for quality will be made available to both PMS and GMS practices. I hope this is of some help.

Handwritten addition

And I can assure you PMS is here to stay. You will be able to decide whether and when to return to a GMS contract. The major additional investment going into primary care over the next three years will not discriminate between GMS and PMS. The benefits of this investment will be accessible by both.

John Hutton

Minister of State

Department of Health

London SW1

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