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'No benefits' in becoming an NHS body

There are 'no immediate benefits' for GPs in giving up their private law status and opting to become an NHS body, according to a leading medical lawyer.

GPs have until February 13 to decide whether they want to sign an NHS contract or a private law contract. Practices choosing to become an NHS body lose the right to sue their primary care organisation and agree all disputes will be dealt with through the NHS disputes resolution procedure.

Contract guidance states this could reduce bureaucracy and cost for the NHS and practices. But GPs choosing a private law contract can opt in to the NHS disputes procedure, and keep their private rights.

Lynne Abbess, head of professional services at lawyers Hempsons, said it was 'wise' for GPs to protect their existing rights.

'If GPs are to be given the right to opt in to the NHS disputes procedure there doesn't seem to be any immediate benefit to them in electing to become an NHS body from the outset,' she said.

'They may prefer to preserve their private status and rights and utilise the NHS disputes procedure if it suits their purposes at the time.'

Most PMS practices opted to become NHS bodies when they signed local contracts.

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