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PMS practices are losing thousands of pounds as cash-strapped primary care trusts hijack funding intended for them.

In evidence to the pay Review Body the BMA said PCTs were failing to pass on extra cash for pensions and seniority and on at least one occasion had attempted to 'reclaim' PMS growth money.

It said it was particularly concerned trusts were failing to pass on the full amounts relating to a 3.225 per cent increase in seniority payments and a 7 per cent increase in employer pension costs. It was also concerned additional pension funding relating to new work such as the quality framework would also go astray.

GPC negotiator Dr Stewart Drage accused the Government of trying to disguise how much money had been added to trusts' allocations for PMS.

'We want the Department of Health to tell us exactly what provisions they have made for these elements,' he said. 'It comes over as a smokescreen.'

Dr Derek Hopper, chair of the GPC PMS sub-committee, accused some PCTs of being 'grossly unfair' and said a failure to uplift the pension contribution by 7 per cent could cost the average GP up to £5,000 a year.

A practice with an income of £1 million receiving only half its total uplift could stand to lose £15,000, he added.

Dr David Lloyd, a PMS GP in Harrow, Middlesex, said his practice with 25 staff was claiming arrears for elements of monthly pension costs of £6,500. 'There is a huge problem,' he said.

The department said it was for PCTs to assess allocations to individual practices from the 3 per cent PMS uplift to the total £4.3 billion budget for primary care.

But Dr David Jenner, primary care contract lead at the NHS Alliance, said PCTs claimed to be still awaiting guidance on uplifts. 'The worry about PMS is that PCTs have flexibility not to honour national commitments,' he said.

GPC member Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the situation reversed earlier inequities between GMS and PMS practices. 'In the past I used to complain the system was unfair to GMS,' he said. 'Now PMS seems to be suffering.'

By Nerys Hairon

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