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PMS practices targeted in new wave of contract reviews

By Alisdair Stirling

Exclusive: Cash-strapped PCTs are shrugging aside their new requirement to involve GPs in financial decisions and targeting PMS practices for a new wave of hostile contract reviews.

Trusts across the country are threatening to rip up the contracts of PMS practices if they don't agree to heavily reduced terms, even though managers in a key test case have admitted there is no legal basis for such threats.

Pulse has learned that NHS Havering, which had said it would force terms on PMS practices or terminate their contracts, has now formally withdrawn that threat under legal challenge from a GP.

But elsewhere in London, NHS Wandsworth has included a review of PMS in its efficiency plan and is pressing ahead with plans to save £4.2m by cutting PMS budgets and GP list cleansing.

Dr Howard Freeman, executive member of the National Association of Primary Care and GP in Wandsworth, said the trust was targeting just those GPs for savings who would be intimately involved in the new commissioning plans.

‘If that´s the way they are going to do it I´ll just cut down what I do,' he said. ‘These are the last people you want to piss off. All the clinical leaders in Wandsworth are in that cadre of PMS practices.'

Dr Tony Stanton, medical director of Wandsworth LMC, said: ‘We're very unhappy Wandsworth PCT has gone back on its previous agreement not to undertake PMS reviews in this financial year. We have made our feelings clear to the PCT.'

The GPC, in its newsletter last week, warned ‘In some parts of the country, and possibly co-ordinated by SHAs, PCTs are trying to cancel PMS contracts unilaterally without grounds. LMCs faced with termination threats should contact their regional liaison officer in the GPC secretariat immediately.'

Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMCs, said major PMS reviews were underway in by Wiltshire and Hampshire PCTs under threat of unilateral termination: ‘With the change in regulations in April, they can potentially terminate contracts on six months' notice.´

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the national picture was patchy: ‘Many PCTs are preparing for heir own demise and don't want to destabilise PMS GPs. But we also know some are conducting reviews specifically to release money for the transition.'

Dr Chaand Nagpaul: Some PCTs 'are conducting reviews specifically to release money for the transition' Dr Chaand Nagpaul: Some PCTs 'are conducting reviews specifically to release money for the transition'

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