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Specialist PMS to start bidding war among GPs

PMS GPs have warned Government plans for Specialist PMS practices will pitch GPs into a bidding war with hospitals and each other to secure money from cash-strapped PCTs.

The alert comes after the Department of Health confirmed there would be no new funding for the scheme and the money had already been allocated to primary care trusts' unified budgets.

Health minister John Hutton revealed the plans for Specialist PMS at a recent conference. The scheme will give some PMS practices the opportunity to provide specific services, similar to enhanced services in the GMS contract, without the need to offer basic care.

The move was part of a series of new powers for PMS GPs aimed at boosting the Government's target to get half of GPs in the local contract by April next year.

Dr James Kingsland, a former Government adviser on PMS and a PMS GP in Wallasey, Wirral, warned trusts were not 'ready or willing' to commission GPs to do services currently provided in second-ary care.

'That's a massive agenda,' he said. 'The principle is sound, but the practice of doing it with PCTs in an underspend position, with hospitals a very strong force, is different'.

Dr Ian Trimble, professional executive committee chair of Nottingham City PCT and a GP in Sherwood, said practices would have to offer 'best value' to succeed in a bidding process. 'PMS practices can't expect to attract investment unless they are competitive,' he added.

Dr Sam Everington, a PMS GP in Tower Hamlets, east London, said trusts faced a conflict of interest between being a commissioner of services and a provider of them. 'The issue will be ''will

PCTs be prepared to enable GPs to bid for these resources?''. It's difficult for them to let go.'

Mr Hutton is due to send a letter to PMS GPs detailing the proposals this month.

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