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'Over half' of Essex PMS practices set to switch to GMS under local agreement

Exclusive More than half of Essex PMS practices have signed up to switch to GMS with special financial protection from the NHS England area team.

Speaking to Pulse on Friday morning, the last working day that practices could sign up to the special deal, Essex LMC chair Dr Brian Balmer said half had signed up - from a total of 100 practices - and the number was still rising.

The deal, negotiated between the Essex LMC and the Essex area team of NHS England as an alternative to going through NHS England’s countrywide PMS reviews this year allows PMS practices to revert to GMS but with seven years’ worth of top-up payments. Although all PMS practices have the right to revert to a GMS contract at any given time, the Essex practices would see special treatment because of the transitional funding agreed.

Dubbed the ‘Essex factor’, the top-up payment will be worked out as the PMS ‘premium’ - in effect what the practices are being paid above and beyond what they would be paid on a GMS contract - so that once on a GMS contract the practices will still be paid their premium but it will be reduced by one-seventh each year for seven years.

Dr Balmer said: ‘I saw the area team yesterday, and slightly to my surprise it is well over 50% of our practices [who have signed up]. It sort of had a slow start but then people would have been evaluating and talking to their accountants. Yesterday it was about 50% and rising fast. There has been a rush in the last couple of days.’

NAPC chair Dr Charles Alessi, a supporter of the PMS contract, described the decision taken by over half of Essex practices as ‘sad’.

He said: ‘I think that is really sad because PMS is a contract that is locally determined and which gives local populations opportunities to get an even more bespoke service. I think that is regretful, because there is enormous opportunity in PMS.’

‘I would say [to these practices]: “Think very carefully before you do that, because things may be changing”.’

Please note: the headline and the story changed at 10:30 on 4 June, to reflect the fact that in the end 63 practices signed up - and not more than 100, as previously stated.

Readers' comments (9)

  • seems a little unfair

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  • I would love to see all the GPs that have switched immediately decline to do any of the enhanced services that fill the gap between GMS and PMS.

    Can you imagine every minor injury being turned away. Every fall at home requiring an ambulance. Every post op stitch removal/ wound check being directed to the hospital. Every blood test being directed to hospital. Every prostate injection needing to be seen in the outpatient department etc etc.

    Will soon find NHSE trying to reintroduce a contract where those services are not optional. They can call it a PMS contract and pay a premium for forcing those services onto GP surgeries. They can call that PMS premium.

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  • Sorry, don't understand the previous comment.
    is that what the practices were being paid a premium to deliver?
    We have been doing all those things free on GMS for years!

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  • Took Early Retirement

    I am a bit confused too. The last time I looked at figures that were in the public domain, PMS partners earned about £10k per year more than GMS ones; for doing what looks suspiciously like the same work, Not a good deal for the public purse I felt. Therefore, I have to confess to not al of of sympathy. (Cue choruses of "If we don't stick together we'll all go down"- well no PMS practice ever gave us a share of their dosh in the good times, yet the budget is supposed to bail them out in the bad times.)

    So, in a way, it is a bit like the banking crisis: privatise the profit, socialise the loss.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    Should be "not a lot"- of course.

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  • Isn't this basically an MPIG when it is being phased out? Pleased to see that the inequity of PMS lives on!

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  • Dear 11.11,
    Are you seriously saying GMS docs don't take blood, visit patients etc.? What do they do?

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  • The trouble is that NHS england has identified GMS practices which have valiantly struggled on offering the same level of care as PMS practices with no refund
    Their " good will gesture" to mainatin good patient care has profound affects on the smaller practices which went PMS to enable a fairer distribution of patient care
    There is no new money and the ring fencing will be taken away. The essex Pms practices realised that NHS England had already identified the calculated " overpayments" and were likely to want to claw back this amount in 3 years the essx factor allows us 7 years to take for our practice approx £20,000 hit each year rather than a probable 50,000 plus per year if we had stayed on pms contract

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  • Yes PMS guys were paid a lot more in cases
    Fund holders a lotta more and sorry all you gms guys had. To do is ask

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