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End appeal on pension or else...

By Ian Cameron

A PCT has threatened to force all of its PMS practices to switch back to GMS if they do not stop pressuring it for unpaid superannuation.

The 15 practices in Suffolk West PCT claim they are owed up to £5,000 each in employers' superannuation payments from the first year of the contract.

All have lodged appeals with the Family Health Services Appeals Authority to recoup the cash.

But the GPs say the PCT has warned it will return them to GMS without any guarantees their income will be protected if they do not drop the appeals.

The practices believe their contract, drawn up by the BMA's solicitors Lockharts, requires the PCT to include the money in practices' core funding. But the PCT said it had only received 85 per cent of the required funds from the Department of Health.

Bill Robinson, chief executive of Suffolk LMC, said being forced to move back to GMS was 'the ultimate sanction'.

He said: 'We've seen the letter practices have been sent and are taking legal advice about how far [the PCT] can go on reviewing contracts and what sort of notice if they intend to change the contract.'

A GP in the area, who asked not to be named, said their practice would become financially unviable if the PCT returned it to GMS without offering the minimum practice income guarantee (MPIG).

'They are getting quite nasty,' the GP said. 'It beggars belief that we and the BMA appear to have accepted the situation where our employers have defaulted on paying their full contributions to GP pensions.'

Mark Crawley, director of transformation and services development at Suffolk West PCT, said negotiations with practices to resolve the issues were at an early stage and some GPs had 'responded positively' to its ideas.

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