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Gold, incentives and meh

PMS GPs prepare for battle over budgets

PMS practices are vowing to fight tooth and nail to protect their income from Government-inspired cuts.

GPs also spoke of their outrage at threats to strip them of their contracts if they refused to agree PCT plans to 'constrain' their budgets.

The Government was taking the wrong approach in goading PCTs into taking an aggressive stance with practices, GPs said.

In announcing its plans to curb PMS practices' income, the Government last week said PCTs would need to 'consider ­ taking legal advice where necessary ­ the continuing appropriateness' of contracts.

GPC negotiators urged GPs to adopt a watching brief and wait for their trust to approach them with proposals.

Dr Laurence Buckman, GPC deputy chair, warned GPs not to initiate 'heated and angry exchanges of inappropriate letters' with managers.

Dr Gavin Jamie, a PMS GP in Swindon, said PCTs threatening to strip contracts would be the 'nuclear option that ensured mutual destruction'.

He said: 'It's very uncertain territory and they seem to be abolishing PMS, not by name, but saying it's the same as GMS.'

Dr Hamish Meldrum, GPC chair, said some members of the committee had predicted the move spelled 'the end of PMS as we know it' at its meeting last week.

Dr Stewart Findlay, a PMS GP in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, said he was 'really worried' and would take legal advice. PCTs would be 'attacking services for patients' as well as GPs' income if they tried to claw back growth money, he added .

LMCs have promised to act quickly to help PMS practices stop contracts being 'unpicked'.

Dr Stephen Linton, chair of North-east Hampshire LMC, said it would 'fight' any attempts to alter contracts.

Dr Johnny Marshall, a GP

in Wendover, Buckinghamshire, and treasurer of the National Association of Primary Care ­ one of the bodies that helped implement PMS ­ said he had 'grave concerns' about PCTs contemplating costly legal action.

He said: 'The threat of legal action will do nothing to further PCT and practice relationships.'

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