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PMS contracts threat

By Helen Crump

PMS GPs could be threatened with having their contracts terminated if they resist primary care trusts' attempts to

renegotiate them, the GPC is warning.

New guidance states that PCTs are increasingly seeking

to redraw a clause in the 'Lockharts' PMS contract relating to superannuation.

Trusts are targeting the clause, 436.2.3, because it entitles PMS practices to have their baseline income uplifted to

allow for full employers' superannuation contributions.

Managers claim this gives them an 'unfair advantage' over GMS practices, which do not have such a right.

The clause is one of a series of targets for PCTs, who have been instructed by the Department of Health to squeeze more out of PMS GPs.

Other tactics being employed by trusts include imposing new targets and forcing practices to take on extra work.

The GPC said it would support practices in fighting attempts to renegotiate the clause, but added it could be lawful for PCTs to give three months' notice to terminate the contract if GPs refused to

co-operate.

Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC negotiator, said there needed to be 'give and take' between GPs and PCTs over the issue.

But he added that until a new contract was agreed, full superannuation had to be paid.

He said: 'It's a very difficult situation because practices and PCTs will have gone into a contract in good faith.

'As with any contract, once you've signed on the dotted line, you need to abide by the good bits as well as the bad bits.'

The discrepancy in the contracts arose because the Department of Health refused to accept the same superannuation reimbursement terms in the national GMS contract.

Dr Vautrey said: 'We recognised that at the time and said we weren't satisfied with the arrangement, but that was as far as we could push the department at the time.'

A number of practices in Worcestershire and Avon have challenged their PCTs' decision to withhold the 14 per cent employers' superannuation costs.

In cases so far, the NHS Litigation Authority, has ruled in favour of the practice rather than the trust.

But because the decisions

relate to local contracts they do not create a precedent.

hcrump@cmpmedica.com

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