GMS practices are better value
GMS practices are better value for money than PMS surgeries or those run by primary care trusts and private firms, a study has concluded.
The GP-led research found GMS practices scored more quality points relative to their funding than both PMS and so-called 'Employed Medical Services' practices using salaried GPs.
Researchers found GMS practices typically achieved 942.7 of the available 1,050 QOF points in the first year of the contract. These practices received an average of £62.51 per patient in resources.
PMS practices received £87.38 per patient per year – but scored only marginally better on the QOF than GMS practices.
EMS practices using salaried GPs fared by far the worst, averaging 757.9 points and receiving an average of £105.37 per patient.
The study, published in the November British Journal of General Practice, concluded that some EMS practices were 'dysfunctional'.
Author Dr Hendrik Beerstecher, a GP in Sittingbourne, Kent, who studied 160 practices across six PCTs, said the findings meant Government policy had to be questioned.
He said: 'If I was buying something giving me half the quality for double the money I would not be happy. You have to wonder why the Government is doing this.'
Salaried GPs did not have
the same financial incentive
as principals to improve
their practice, Dr Beerstecher added.
But he was uncertain why GMS practices appeared better value for money than their PMS equivalents. He said: 'Maybe PMS practices use their extra money to give GPs longer holidays in-stead of investing it in patient services.
'In PMS practices there seems to be a ceiling effect, at which additional funding produces no further increase in QOF score.'
Professor Chris Ham, professor of health policy at the University of Birmingham, said EMS practices tended to serve more disadvantaged populations where it was more difficult to achieve the same outcomes.
Comparing GMS and PMS was not necessarily comparing like with like because the
two contracts had different goals, he added.