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LMC wins small concession on PMS funding cuts

PMS practices in Yorkshire will be given a one-year reprieve before losing the last of their so-called ‘premium’ funding after NHS England gave in to pressures from local GP leaders.

As part of ongoing national reviews of £260m worth of PMS funding identified by NHS England as not linked to specific services, the West Yorkshire area team proposed the local share would be removed over three years. However in a letter to practices the LMC said the area team has agreed to make it four and also guarantee that funding in the interim will not fall below.

Central NHS England guidelines to area teams had said reviews must be held by March 2016 but that the timeframe for redistributing funds should be locally determined.

In the letter, YORLMC’s Bradford and Airdale branch chair Dr Mark Brooke said the initial proposals ‘would have led to a very abrupt removal of signficant funding from many practices’ but that the LMC’s meetings with the area team had ‘resulted in successfully negotiating a favourable pace of funding withdrawal’.

As part of the deal now struck, practices would get interim phased support while the LMC has also been ensured funding will not fall below the GMS target for 2020 in the interim years.

However the LMC is still concerned about where redistributed funds will go as NHS England failed to ensure it will be reinvested in GP services, and Dr Brooke also advised practices to push the area team for a clearer breakdown of how they calculated their ‘premium’ as this was ‘unclear’.

He said: ‘It is YORLMC’s view that the financial information provided by the area team lacks sufficient detail to allow practices to form any judgement about the accuracy of the area team calculations relating to practice baseline. In view of this YORLMC recommended that practices contact the area team to request the detail behind their baseline calculations – this will ensure that practices, when meeting with the area team, will do so on an equal footing.’

The update is the latest in a string of early signs of how PMS reviews are unfolding, after area teams including in Essex and East Anglia have reached deals with LMCs to offer PMS practices mass-switch deals to GMS. This included in East Anglia, where ‘100%’ of practices have now expressed interest in switching, according to the latest Cambridgeshire LMC newsletter. A similar deal in Essex has seen over half of practices switch to GMS already.

It comes as NAPC has called for NHS England to urgently rethink its PMS approach amid ‘significant problems’ with how reviews are being carried out, and as a branch surgery in Sheffield has become the first example of service at risk of closure as a direct result PMS funding cuts.