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PMS GPs face contract deadline

By Gareth Iacobucci

A PCT which issued termination notices on all its PMS contracts has given GPs a final deadline for accepting a revised deal.

If PMS GPs in Northumberland fail to agree to the terms, which will see a large reduction in income for the majority of practices, by January 21, they will either have to revert to a GMS contract, or face seeing their contracts, which terminate on 31 March, go out to tender.

After initially informing GPs of their plans in October, Northumberland PCT offered all PMS GPs an improvement on its original demand on December 21, following uproar over the cuts, which it was feared may cause some practices to close.

The revised offer includes the addition of increased payments to recognise rurality. It also offers to cap income reductions at 8% rather than 9% in the first year, and at 12% for the second year and beyond for practices where financial reductions would exceed this limit.

Dr Jane Lothian, Northumberland LMC secretary, said that talks were progressing, but said the current offer did not go far enough.

She said: ‘Although they have made changes, we don't feel that the current offer is acceptable.. Although some of the practices that were facing closure may not be doing so, that still will relate in significant cuts in services across large parts of the county.'

A spokesperson for Northumberland PCT said: ‘Work is ongoing to resolve this matter with GPs across Northumberland so that we meet the needs of patients and still ensure that we get proper value for the large sums of public money involved. The revised offers are still over and above the standard national contract and reflect the demographics and wide range of services offered by Northumberland GPs.'

‘We have said throughout that we would not wish to see practices closing as a result of these discussions and with this revised offer we firmly believe this should not be necessary.'

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