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GP forces PCT to withdraw PMS contract changes

By Mark Pownall

Exclusive: A GP's legal challenge has forced the withdrawal of changes to PMS agreements that would have allowed unilateral termination of contracts.

Pulse revealed last week that a London GP had launched a test case against NHS Havering after it attempted to revise PMS contracts to allow unilateral termination, as a means of forcing through income cuts of up to 40%.

NHS Havering has now withdrawn the proposed changes, saying it will reissue them ‘to comply with due process'.

The move will provide hope to PMS practices across the UK in dispute with primary care organisations, since it represents an admission that forcing through pay cuts with the threat of contract termination could be illegal.

Legal action was brought on behalf of the unnamed GP by law firm Pannone LLP and also involving the barrister, Simon Butler, who chalked up an analogous victory for dentists in 2008.

But the lifting of the threat in Havering may be short-lived, as the PCT plans to issue new notices.

Mr Butler, of Ely Place Chambers, acting for Pannone, said: ‘NHS Havering has withdrawn the [variation of contract] notices and says it will serve new ones. I expect it is reviewing them to see if it can make them more legally sound. We don't believe they'll be able to.'

NHS Havering said the notices had been withdrawn ‘due to a technicality around the process', but would be ‘reissued shortly to comply'.

At the LMCs conference last week delegates called on the GPC to make a stand on PMS. Dr Navinchandra Thakrar, of Ealing, Hammersmith and Hounslow LMC, said: ‘There are PCOs bullying practices under the guise of value for money.'

GP wins first PMS test case