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GPC pushes bail-out for PMS practices

By Ian Quinn

Exclusive: The GPC has revealed plans to negotiate ‘parachute payments' for PMS GPs quitting their contracts, claiming it will allow a large number of practices to make the transition back to GMS.

It is drawing up guidance which it hopes trusts will agree to use as a framework for the ongoing wave of contract renegotiations, with proposals for practices to be offered an ‘MPIG equivalent' sum to pave the way for them to give up their PMS status.

The move comes with a string of GPs in London and Manchester revealing they are planning to join those in Gloucestershire and Northumberland, who Pulse revealed exclusively last week were making the switch.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the GPC's lead on PMS and himself a PMS GP, said his practice was prepared to return to GMS if his PCT would agree to the GPC's plans.

‘Ultimately PMS contracts are down to local negotiations - our guidance can only act as a framework. But we strongly believe that many practices would be willing to return to GMS if these MPIG equivalent payments were offered by trusts.

‘We believe that there is benefit to PCTs in practices reverting back to GMS which will enable them to have an equitable provision of GP contracts and that many PMS GPs will welcome having the level of bureaucracy involved in PMS removed.

He added: ‘Trusts would be cutting off their nose to spite their face if they make it financially impossible for PMS practices to switch back to GMS.'

The GPC's intervention comes with practices across the country locked in negotiations with PCTs, including NHS Hillingdon, which covers Dr Nagpaul's practice in Stanmore, north London.

‘We are considering a return to GMS if our PCT can be helpful in providing us with an MPIG equivalent. Many PMS practices are in the same situation.' he said.

‘There is now nothing that can be achieved through PMS that can't be done through the new GMS contract.'

The GPC and LMCs have been attacked by the National Association of Primary Care, which claims they have let down PMS practices by actively encouraging to switch back to GMS and allowing them to be bullied into submission in negotiations.

Vice president Dr Peter Smith said: ‘There are one or two notable exceptions where LMCs have got behind practices but there have been many cases where LMCs have said "you're just going to have to accept this''.

‘Collusion is a strong word but they are allowing PMS practices to be used as scapegoats.'

Dr. John Hughes, honorary secretary of Manchester LMC, where two PMS GPs have switched back to GMS with another six having been advised to do so by the LMC, said: ‘The majority of PMS practices realise that they've had a good few years and that maybe the good days are over.

‘On behalf of PMS GPs we've negotiated that practices who were underperforming would be offered LES funding in return for taking on new services but some have decided to revert to GMS. Practices have to be able to demonstrate they are offering extra services to justify extra funding.'

It comes as Pulse learned that private firms have been advising trusts they can save millions by slashing back on GP budgets to meet the requirements of the Government's quality, innovation, productivity and prevention (QUIPP) strategy.

A report by external consultants Deloitte for Wolverhampton City PCT, urges the trust that it can save up to £1 million from slashing PMS contracts down to the GMS contracts level, even though it says the trusts ‘actually had the lowest per capita expenditure on GP services in the West Midlands.'

Dr Chaand Nagpaul said his practice would return to GMS if his PCT agreed to the GPC's plans