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Tsar warns 'no new cash unless PMS Plus is revived'

The Department of Health wants to push more GPs into PMS Plus projects after warning that expanding the scheme is the only way it will find new money for primary care.

Speaking on the eve of the GMS contract ballot result, primary care tsar Dr David Colin-Thome said PMS Plus, in which GPs get extra cash for taking on selected secondary care services, was the sole means of putting a brake on hospital spending. He also admitted the department had neglected PMS Plus as it chased its target to get one-third of GPs working under a PMS contract.

Only a minority of the 38 per cent of GPs in PMS run a PMS Plus project because PCOs have withdrawn support for the schemes because of fears they will disrupt local services.

Dr Colin-Thome told the British Computer Society's primary care specialist group conference the Government would be accused of not investing enough in the NHS unless it changed how the money is spent. 'Until we slow down hospital spending we will have no growth for developments in primary care,' he said. 'PMS Plus has never really been encouraged.'

The comments provoked an angry response from GP negotiators, who argued GMS GPs were able to take on hospital services, if given the cash.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, GPC joint-deputy chair, said: 'It's not a question of whether it's GMS or PMS but whether GPs are going to take on these additional roles.'

Dr James Kingsland, former Government PMS adviser, said ministers had only been interested in getting GPs into PMS, not what practices would do. His practice in Merseyside had its PMS Plus project, which received £50,000 a year for taking on hospital services, stopped in 2001.

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