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Independents' Day

Watchdog casts doubt on PMS

There is no evidence that PMS offers better value for money than GMS, the Government's spending watchdog concludes in a damning report.

The Audit Commission last week criticised primary care trusts' failure to monitor PMS GPs' spending.

GPs hoping to switch to PMS in the wake of this week's new GMS contract could face a much tougher task after the commission proposed a checklist they would have to pass (see box).

The commission said PMS was a high-risk strategy with some PCTs leaving GPs to spend money as they saw fit while others conducted such scrutiny that GPs complained of intrusion into their personal finances.

There was particular concern whether practices were spending PMS growth money on the additional nurses and GPs it was intended for.

The Department of Health said better performance monitoring of PMS was in hand. It wants a majority of GPs in PMS by 2004.

Audit Commission checklist for

practices applying for PMS

 · GMS item-of-service claims returned correctly and on time, with adequate post-payment verification

 · Low turnover of staff

 · Partnership stable with no serious personality or professional clashes within practice

 · Practice is financially viable and has a 'generally healthy' relationship with the PCT

 · Few complaints made about the practice and

none justified

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