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Trusts threaten to terminate PMS contracts to save money

PMS GPs are facing increasing attempts by primary care trusts to cut funding and force them back to GMS, writes Helen Crump.

GPs have reported growing numbers of PCTs making bids to reduce growth money, renegotiate terms or force extra work on to practices.

Practices that refuse to agree are being threatened with contract termination or offered lesser APMS or GMS deals.

The moves come almost a year after the Department of Health ordered trusts to ensure 'equivalence' between GMS and PMS practices.

Norfolk PCT was the first trust to propose switching all PMS practices back to GMS (News, 23 November).

East Midlands strategic health authority has told PCTs to scrap PMS contracts where practices are not offering value for money.

Harrow PCT has approached all PMS practices, proposing a cut in growth monies, and Brent Teaching PCT has identified £300,000 of savings.

Bill Wilson, chief executive of Suffolk LMC, said Suffolk PCT had proposed tiered PMS contracts with different levels of activity and pay.

South West Essex PCT has been trying to remove funding retrospectively from a PMS practice, meaning GPs could have to pay back money.

Andrew Bradshaw, deputy chief executive of Essex LMC, suspected this was the 'thin end of the wedge' and other trusts would try to follow suit.

Dr Gary Sweeney, a PMS GP in Clacton-on-Sea, said cutting PMS budgets was 'a false economy'.

He said: 'The first thing GPs do when they are under pressure is refer and write more prescriptions. PCTs are just going to find things move in the opposite direction from the one they were hoping for.'

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the GPC primary care development sub-committee, said: 'I think it's highly unfair of the Government to have promoted PMS in an evangelical manner and now to be looking to penalise practices it propped up.'

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